Pac-12 announces football season will begin in November

Starting on Nov. 6, the Pac-12 will begin its seven-game schedule, after the conference's CEO group of university presidents voted unanimously to resume football and basketball, ending a Jan. 1 halt on athletic events for Pac-12 schools

The Pac-12 announced on Thursday that it will play football in 2020.

Starting on Nov. 6, the Pac-12 will begin its seven-game schedule, after the conference's CEO group of university presidents voted unanimously to resume football and basketball, ending a Jan. 1 halt on athletic events for Pac-12 schools.

Both the men's and women's basketball seasons will start on Nov. 25, and the conference football championship game will be held on Dec. 18.

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Approval from the state and local public health officials was the reason why the Pac-12 decided to restart sports, which will feature no fans at sporting events taking place on campus, according to the conference.

“From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Our agreement with Quidel to provide daily rapid-results testing has been a game-changer in enabling us to move forward with confidence that we can create a safe environment for our student-athletes while giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

The Southeastern Conference begins play this weekend, joining the Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and three others that have been up and running for weeks.

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The season is ongoing but it has been anything but normal. There have been 21 games postponed or canceled since Aug. 26 because of teams battling various levels of COVID-19-related issues.

This week, four games scheduled to be played Saturday have been called off, including Notre Dame at Wake Forest because of a virus outbreak among Fighting Irish players.

The turning point for the return of fall sports for the Pac-12 came earlier this month when it entered an agreement with a diagnostic testing company that will give each school the capability to conduct daily antigen tests on their athletes.

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Daily testing should also decrease the number of athletes who end up in quarantine after coming into what would be considered a high-risk contact with someone who has tested positive.

When the Pac-12 postponed on Aug. 11, its medical advisors had recommended daily testing for athletes to safely compete at most of the conference’s schools because of high rates of community spread of the virus.

Daily testing helped the Pac-12 convince state and local officials in California and Oregon to lift restrictions that have made it impossible for teams to prepare for a football season.

There is still work to be done on that front, now in Colorado. Due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Boulder County officials Thursday halted gatherings for college-aged residents for two weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.