‘This has nothing to do with money.’ Details on the return of Pac-12 sports
Following the announcement of the Pac-12 football and basketball seasons returning in 2020, conference commissioner Larry Scott along with University of Oregon President Michael Schill, Arizona State University Athletic Director Ray Anderson and Oregon State University Senior Associate Athletic Director Doug Aukerman held a media webinar where they laid out their plans for football and basketball seasons.
Here some highlights from the webinar.
Michael Schill on whether money was a reason for restarting the season: “This has nothing to do with money. It was never once mentioned as a consideration. The losses that our schools are encountering, and in particular our athletic departments, are huge. The amount of money that will be paid as a result of going back to play is tiny in comparison with the losses. It had no effect on our decisions.”
Larry Scott on if he believes a 7-0 Pac-12 team should be considered for the College Football Playoffs: “Our schools are going to have the opportunity to be in the conversation. They will have every opportunity. We’ve regularly discussed this at the CFP management committee. There’s no minimum number of games and we’re all humbly going into the season realizing that there could be disruptions along the way … but that’s why we have a committee of 13 very diverse experts that are going to weigh it all up. Our schools, knowing that, will be able to play a meaningful amount of games, high-level games, with our championship concluding a couple of days before our final CFP meeting. We absolutely have the opportunity to have a team in the mix for the playoffs.”
Scott on the importance of the partnership with Quidel Corporation to restart the season: “That was obviously a game-changer for us in terms of having access to the testing because our medical advisory committee was recommending daily testing in certain markets … We still had public health authorities that were uncomfortable and ongoing questions about myocarditis and other concerns, and our medical advisory committee was tracking the prevalence of the virus which really was the three conditions that were set as to why we hit the pause button back in August. It wasn’t as simple as having access to the tests, but that was the start of our ability to reevaluate and having new, fresh discussions with our public health officials that we weren’t able to have before the testing.”
Doug Aukerman on the importance of daily testing: “If you’re testing daily, you’ll be able to identify people who begin to have enough of the virus in them to turn a test positive and if you’re doing that daily and doing that prior to them practicing or playing, you are able to remove them from that cohort before some of that spread can occur. There’s no question that contact tracing and really diligent contact tracing will still have to occur, especially outside of the athletic footprint. The hope is that if we can continue to test daily, we can maybe mitigate the amount of spread and contact tracing … but if you think about the fact that you will testing people every single day, you will be able to narrow the window where they started to express enough of the virus to be at risk and potentially mitigate it.”
Scott on considering more creative scheduling options without fans being allowed in attendance: “We made it clear that there won’t be fans at any of our events, certainly not during the football season, but just like everything, we’ll continue to monitor that. We’ve taken a very measured step-by-step approach. We’ve got a football working-group that’s worked on some scheduling models … obviously we’ve kept very close communications with our broadcasting partners at ESPN and FOX so that’s the next step. We haven’t decided anything in terms of an exact schedule or times that we’ll play, but we’ve got a great working relationship with our partners and they’ve been patient and flexible with us and there’s going to be some very exciting broadcast windows for our games. I think we’re still several days away, certainly by next week, we’ll clarify an exact schedule including some details on our broadcasting intentions.”
Scott on potential options for a Pac-12 basketball schedule: “There is a wide range of options being discussed. I think most leagues, including ours, are looking between 18-20, but some of that is going to depend on where they ultimately net out on how many non-conference games they want to play. Normally, the range would be between 18-20 in a league, but that assumes you have a decent complement of non-conference games to get to the permitted number of contests that the NCAA is allowing this year, so I think it’s too early to narrow the options to where we might end up because there’s still a lot of options out there.”
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