Along with announcing a fall football season, the Pac-12 said Thursday that its men’s and women’s basketball seasons will begin Nov. 25—the official NCAA start date—and that further schedule details will be released at a later date.
In August, the conference had announced all competition was prohibited until January, which made the Pac-12 the only Division I conference except the Ivy League to postpone its basketball season.
New developments caused the Pac-12 to change course.
“The August 11 decision of the Pac-12 CEO Group to postpone sport competitions was based upon three central concerns cited by the Medical Advisory Committee: consistent testing capabilities across all Pac-12 universities, the prevalence of the virus in Pac-12 communities and nationally, and concerns related to possible cardiac concerns potentially associated with COVID-19,” the conference said in a statement. “The decision to resume sport competitions today is based upon updated Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that point to material improvements in each of these three areas, along with updated state and local public health guidance.
“In addition to the consistent access to sufficient testing across all Pac-12 programs, community prevalence has shown continued improvement in the majority of communities across the Pac-12 footprint. To address concerns regarding potential health outcomes related to the virus, each Pac-12 sports medicine group will be implementing cardiac monitoring protocols for all student-athletes with a positive test. The Pac-12 institutions are also participating in a national COVID-19 cardiac registry which will allow for medical practitioners to monitor closely, and gain greater insight into, potential health outcomes in student-athletes.”
The Arizona Wildcats are scheduled to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Nov. 25, which is said to be moving from New York to a bubble in Orlando. However, it’s unclear if they will still be in that participating or any of their original non-conference games.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said everything from playing single non-conference games, playing games in pods, and playing in multi-team events is on the table, but the Pac-12’s statement said that “in all cases, competition with non-conference opponents will be contingent upon such non-conference opponents implementing minimum testing protocols in accordance with NCAA and Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations.”
When it comes to conference games, Scott isn’t sure how many there will be. The Pac-12 was supposed to increase from 18 to 20 conference games this year, but Scott said “this is such an unusual year that everything is on the table, including playing conference games in December.”
Scott is scheduled to meet with Pac-12 basketball coaches on Thursday night to discuss how they want to proceed.
Arizona basketball coaches react
Men’s coach Sean Miller: “Our coaching staff, players and each of their respective families are grateful for the opportunity to compete in a 2020-2021 college basketball season. Personally, I would like to thank the Pac-12 leadership, in particular our University President, Dr. Robbins, and our Director of Athletics, Dave Heeke, for their continued efforts and support throughout this process. We look forward to meeting the challenges ahead of us as we begin to prepare for the start of the season on Nov. 25.”
Women’s coach Adia Barnes: “I fully support the decision from the Pac-12 Conference and its CEO Group to move forward with a safe and healthy plan to play our season in 2020. I want to thank everyone at the Pac-12 as well as President Robbins, Dave Heeke and University leadership for their commitment to the safety and health of our student-athletes, coaches and staff in Arizona Athletics.
“We understand there remains work to be done to ensure a safe environment, and I feel confident in the plan to move forward with the season because of the incredible testing resources we have due to the Pac-12’s partnership with Quidel.
“I am thrilled that our student-athletes will be able to represent the University of Arizona and the city of Tucson on the court in 2020. We have big plans for the coming season, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish. Bear Down and Mask Up.”