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Pac-12 moves football, fall sports to conference-only schedules

(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

The Pac-12 announced Friday it will have a conference-only fall sports schedule for the 2020 season.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a press release. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

The news was first reported The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach on Thursday.

Other sports leagues around the country were first to act amid growing concerns about the viability of college athletics during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced it will not play sports until the spring semester at least.

Then on Thursday, the Big Ten was the first power conference to cancel non-conference games this fall. The Pac-12 follows suit, having lost two key non-conference matchups with Big Ten teams: Washington-Michigan (Sept. 5) and Oregon-Ohio State (Sept. 12).

For the Arizona State Sun Devils, that means games against Northern Arizona (Sept. 3) at home, at UNLV (Sept. 12) and in Tempe against BYU (Sept. 19) will no longer take place.

ASU opens Pac-12 play Sept. 26 at the USC Trojans.

The school released a statement shortly after the change became official.

Arizona State University and Sun Devil Athletics support the Pac-12’s announcement of a strictly conference schedule for the 2020 football and fall sports seasons. We will continue to seek the guidance and input from medical and infectious disease experts, as well as our local and campus health officials and doctors as we evaluate this ever-changing landscape.

Most importantly, we will continue to focus on the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff at the forefront of all we do.

The Arizona Wildcats will no longer play a Week 0 game against Hawaii (Aug. 29), a home game against Portland State (Sept. 5) and a visit to Texas Tech (Sept. 19). They have a scheduled Sept. 12 game at home against Pac-12 foe Stanford.

In a letter on Thursday, ASU vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson told university athletics partners that more than 150 athletes representing 20 of 26 teams had already taken part in voluntary offseason conditioning workouts. ASU still planned for students to be ready for an Aug. 20 resumption of fall classes, but he added that plans could change quickly.

That happened with a domino effect started by other leagues.

The Ivy League became the first Division I conference to suspend all fall sports, including football, leaving open the possibility of moving some seasons to the spring if the coronavirus pandemic is better controlled by then.

“We simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk,” the Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a statement.

“We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility — and that is the basis for this difficult decision.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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