Pac-12 football plans remain in holding pattern

Any plans for the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten in returning to football are on hold due to health policies in two states within the conference.

The Big Ten changed course Wednesday and said it will begin an eight-game football schedule on Oct. 23.

The Pac-12 has also reconsidered starting its football season this fall, but does not have approval from state and local health officials in California and Oregon to conduct contact practices.

Earlier this month, the Pac-12 announced a partnership that would give the conference’s schools the capacity to perform daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes. The rapid testing was seen as an avenue for the conference to begin playing football and other sports sooner than expected.

The Pac-12 CEO Group is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the conference’s options.

“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,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time. 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 door for playing in California may already be open.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, speaking later Wednesday, said nothing in his state is preventing the conference from moving forward with football and other sports.

“They can resume football,” Newsom said. “There is nothing in guidelines that says Pac-12 cannot move forward. Period, full stop. I just want to make that crystal clear.”

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