The Pac-12 Conference announced Tuesday that it has postponed all sports through the end of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision affects two Bay Area schools in the conference: Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.
The Pac-12 CEO Group unanimously voted to postpone the fall sports calendar after consulting with the conference's Medical Advisory Committee over concerns for player and coach safety. Pac-12 officials also said they would consider a return of postponed sports in spring 2021 if conditions improve.
In a statement, Stanford University Athletics Director Bernard Muir said the postponement is "disappointing for many people, but none more than our student-athletes." He remains hopeful that the university will figure out a way to give those student-athletes a chance to participate in their sport in the winter and spring.
Muir also described the safety measures the university rolled out this summer for student-athletes to train at campus facilities. "Even with those protocols in place, however, we are still not prepared to allow our programs to take the next step of moving to the level of physical contact and equipment sharing needed to prepare to compete safely," Muir said.
"Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. "Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant."
Pac-12 officials said that student-athletes will have their scholarships guaranteed despite the cancellation of sports in 2020. Muir echoed this promise in his own statement.
Conference officials also encouraged the NCAA to grant an additional year of eligibility to students who opt out of their sports during the 2020-2021 academic year.
"Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes," University of Oregon President and Pac-12 CEO Group Chair Michael Schill said. "We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the new year."
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.