Pac-12 after Big Ten news: ‘Eager’ to play but can’t yet because of public health mandates

On the heels of the Big Ten Conference opting to start its season in October, Pac-12 Conference commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday the league was eager to find a solution to compete as soon as possible. 

The Pac-12 is now alone among the Power Five conferences as the only league not set to play football in the fall. Public health mandates in California and Oregon have kept the league from moving forward with its 12 members.

“At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice," Scott said in a public statement. "We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition."

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Complicating the conference's potential for return are severe wildfires on the West Coast that have created some of the worst air quality conditions in the world. Had there been no postponement due to the coronavirus, it's possible select games would have been rescheduled because of the air quality concern. 

"We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time," Scott added. "We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.”

The Pac-12 is now alone among the Power Five conferences as the only league not set to play football in the fall. (Photo: The Associated Press)

The Big Ten, which reversed its August decision to postpone the fall season, plans to implement rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 that can be administered on a daily basis — a pathway the Pac-12 could follow to help persuade public and state officials of safe conditions. 

The Pac-12 announced earlier in September its partnership with Quidel Corporation, a manufacturer of FDA-approved rapid tests that will allow the league to test student-athletes daily for COVID-19. Scott called the purchase of the new tests a "game-changer."

On Tuesday, Southern California football players requested Gov. Gavin Newsom to ease restrictions to pave way for a fall season to be played. 

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