CA Gov. Gavin Newsom: COVID Guidelines Don’t Stop Pac-12 Football from Playing

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2019, file photo, the Pac-12 logo is displayed on the field at Sun Devil Stadium during an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State in Tempe, Ariz. As the wealthiest conferences  like the Pac-12 lay out plans they hope will protect athletes from contracting and spreading COVID-19, most of the schools in the second-tier of Division I football have given up on trying to play in the fall. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

Ralph Freso/Associated Press

California Governor Gavin Newsom suggested Wednesday that the state’s guidelines aren’t preventing the Pac-12 conference from holding a football season.  

There are specific guidelines that would make it difficult, however, as Ryan Young of Rivals noted:

Ryan Young @RyanYoungRivals

California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked about Pac-12’s push to play. Seems a bit skewed perspective as state’s guidelines limit teams to practicing in cohorts of 12 or less. Can’t have traditional football practice like that. But he says he’ll work with Pac-12, which is encouraging.

Specifically, Newsom said he would work with Pac-12 officials on the guidelines that do not permit players from gathering in groups larger than 12, per Kevin Wade of 247Sports. 

“Our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said earlier Wednesday. “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.”

Scott offered a more optimistic message about a return to play later in the day, however:

Pac-12 Conference @pac12

Statement from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott on positive developments from governors of California and Oregon:

Newsom also said he would work with the conference on testing concerns. 

“I look forward to working as we have been in a constructive dialogue w/ the Pac-12 and NCAA on testing issues…” he said, per Young. “And as it relates to cohorting, we are certainly willing to engage and have now engaged the Pac-12 in that discussion.”

The comments come on the same day that the Big Ten voted to begin its season on the weekend of Oct. 24 after being one of the two Power 5 conferences to postpone fall sports. The conference will try to squeeze eight football games per team into eight weeks before holding the Big Ten championship on Dec. 19, allowing their teams the chance to earn a berth in the College Football Playoff, which will select its teams on Dec. 20. 

“Great news today,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday in a statement, per Adam Rittenberg and Heather Dinich of ESPN. “Over the past month, I could sense the anticipation from our players and coaches, and I’m thrilled on their behalf that they will have a chance to play a 2020 season. Stay positive. Test negative. Let’s play football.”

It remains to be seen if the Pac-12 will follow suit. 


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