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Pac-12 schools respond to fall sports cancellation

The Pac-12 member universities have spoken about the Pac-12 CEO Group’s decision to cancel the 2020 fall sports season

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 CEO Group announced their decision to cancel the fall 2020 sports calendar, effectively immediately on Tuesday. It took no time at all for the Pac-12 coaches and athletics directors to speak out.

Here’s a rundown of each of the public comments.

A letter from Oregon State Athletic Director Scott Barnes:

Dear Beaver Nation,

I hope this correspondence finds you, your family and friends safe and healthy.

The Pac-12 Conference presidents and chancellors announced Tuesday to postpone all sport competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year.

This was a difficult decision that affects so many young men and women who are committed to representing this outstanding university. Conference leaders and the league’s health advisory team, headed by our own Dr. Doug Aukerman, explored numerous avenues to safely compete. Ultimately, we could not find a safe pathway for our student-athletes, coaches, and staff.

While our student-athletes are not able to compete we will continue to provide access to our athletic facilities so that they can continue to pursue their athletic interests. OSU’s student-athletes have been truly amazing in following our protocols for training and thus we are among the national leaders for the fewest COVID-related issues to date. In addition, we remain fully committed to assuring our young men and women are on track academically and have access to all of our physical and mental health services.

I want to thank those of you who renewed your football season tickets and annual fund contribution back in the Spring. In the upcoming days, we will be asking you to consider three different options on what you’d like to do with that financial commitment to OSU Athletics. Each option comes with added incentives as we recognize the financial investment we are asking you to make during this time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented Oregon State Athletics with extreme financial challenges. What is just as evident is the impact it is having on our student-athletes. These young men and women have experienced unprecedented disruption and through it all, they have excelled. Our student-athlete community has performed in a record-breaking way during this past academic term. Now more than ever, we need you to continue in our mission - the holistic development of our student-athletes is at the forefront of everything we do.

Our student-athletes and coaches are incredibly strong and committed to representing Oregon State University in a manner you can be proud of. Our mission is to Build Excellent Authentic Visionary Student-Athletes is more important than ever in times like this. I have great confidence in our shared future that includes your support.

Beaver Nation, we are all in this together and will continue to do everything we can to be smart and stay safe. Please continue to wear masks and follow social distance measures.

Go Beavs!

Washington President Ana Mari Cauce:

“It’s tremendously disappointing to reach this point, but the continued spread of the coronavirus around the country, plus the new questions being raised about its potential health effects, forced our hand. We’ve said all along that our decisions would be guided by our commitment to our students’ health and welfare, and that will continue to be our focus in light of this very difficult and disappointing decision for all of us. What we’ll do now is support our students whose seasons have been disrupted and ensure they have what they need to stay healthy, be successful in their classes and maintain their fitness as we wait for the country to get to a place where it’s possible to play college sports again.”

Washington Athletic Director Jen Cohen:

“Today is an extremely difficult day for Husky Athletics. This decision impacts so many people, especially our student-athletes and coaches, and my heart goes out to each of them. Our students are committed young men and women who dedicate their time and talents to developing as students, athletes and leaders as they represent our programs, university and our community. We will continue to work tirelessly to give these students, and all of our students, an opportunity to compete this year. Our commitment to provide an environment for our students to thrive holistically – physically, mentally, academically and socially – does not change. Though this is a disappointing day, we are supportive of the decision made by the Pac-12 CEO’s in consultation with the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee and Pac-12 AD’s which prioritized the health and well-being of all involved. We would also like to thank Husky Nation for all they do and provide for our students and our entire department. We have the greatest fans and supporters who have helped build this incredible place and we can’t wait to be reunited with them again on Montlake when the time is right.”

Washington head football coach Jimmy Lake:

“I’m so grateful for our medical team and our administration for the time they have committed the last several weeks and months to put together a plan as we worked to get back on the field this fall. The safety of our student-athletes and our staff will always be the number-one priority and we will continue to work with our medical staff, administration and the Pac-12 as we navigate the weeks ahead. We remain committed to providing the greatest experience possible for our players. We will continue to train and prepare and, when the medical experts determine the season can begin, the University of Washington Football Team will be ready to compete.”

Washington head soccer coach Jamie Clark:

“Our team is disappointed that they will not be allowed to compete this fall, but they understand this decision was made in the interest of their health & wellness. We will find a way to keep growing and getting better, and whenever we are able to compete again, our group will be ready to defend its Pac-12 title!”

Washington Cross Country Coaches Maurice Powell and Andy Powell:

“While it’s disappointing that we’ll have to wait a little longer for competitive opportunities, we fully trust that the medical guidance provided by the Pac-12 conference and our university leaders is in the best interest of our student-athletes. We will continue to put the mental and physical health and wellness of our Huskies at the forefront of all we do here on Montlake, and we’ll get through this, together.”

USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn

USC head football coach Clay Helton

UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond

Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano:

“The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors reached the decision today that we felt was best for the health and safety of our student-athletes. We know the postponement of competition is painful for our fans, alumni, donors and, most of all, our student-athletes who have worked so hard to prepare for the season under extremely difficult circumstances. Intercollegiate sports are woven into the fabric of our campus life and Buff pride, and they provide us a common shared experience that unites our student body, fans and alumni from around the world.

“We made this decision today, however, with the long-term well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and campus communities top of mind. As we have said since March, we will navigate this difficult time as Buffs together. We look forward to the day we can once again rally behind our student-athletes as they return to competition, while continuing to support each of them as the scholars, holistic individuals and future leaders they are.”

Colorado athletic director Rick George:

“The decision to postpone the fall sports seasons and to delay the start of the winter ones was not made in haste – but in light of current virus trends and the long term health impacts of COVID-19 remaining unknown, this was determined to be the best course of action for the health and safety of our student-athletes. That has always been and will remain our top priority. We are hopeful that the situation reaches a point where we can have our winter sports start at the first of the year, and perhaps play a modified fall sports schedule in the spring.”

“We are committed to continuing to provide our student-athletes with academic support, access to medical care, comprehensive mental health resources, sport performance and nutritional support, as well as access to leadership and career development programming. These areas are critical for maintaining the world class and holistic experiences we always strive to provide. We cannot let this time in history derail all of the incredible work and progress that we have been able to achieve in these areas.”

Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir

Utah athletic director Mark Harlan:

As I write to you today, I recognize what a challenging time this is for everyone, and I’m hopeful this letter finds you and your family in good health.

This has been an incredibly difficult time for our young people, and our primary concern is for the health, safety and well-being of the student-athletes, whose interests and needs we prioritize and serve on a daily basis. I want to take this opportunity to share with you a disappointing development for those student-athletes, as well as for our coaches, staff, the University and for all of you who support Utah Athletics so passionately.

Today the Pac-12 announced the postponement of all fall sports, and a pause of any competition until after January 1. We know this presents a significant disruption to so many of our student-athletes across multiple sport programs, and especially for our seniors in those sports. For months we have been working diligently in consultation with top medical experts to create a safe path for competition in these sports to take place, and using all of the information and time available to us. However, with the challenges and complexities presented by COVID-19, the medical advice does not support conducting fall sports seasons.

We applaud and appreciate the work being done on each of our individual campuses and, by our local and state health officials and by the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee. The plans created to allow for the start of voluntary workouts earlier this summer were thorough, prudent and have proven to be highly successful. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have been extremely diligent in adhering to those protocols and making smart decisions in their personal lives. Moving from that phase to full-contact workouts and the type of practices necessary to safely prepare for competition is not something that was recommended by the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee at this time.

Our attention will continue to focus on providing for the academic, emotional and physical well-being of our student-athletes. They will continue to prepare for their upcoming academic semester, and they will continue to have the same access to our first-class medical care, mental health care, academic support, nutrition and meals and scholarship support. We are also working closely with the Pac-12 and the NCAA to address questions regarding eligibility.

We know there is a great deal of disappointment around this decision for all involved. I write to you today in acknowledgment and recognition of your passion and loyalty to the University of Utah and the young people who represent all of us so admirably in athletics.

It was prudent that we make every effort possible to preserve the opportunity for our fall sports to compete in 2020. Our ability to serve our student-athletes is something we strive to preserve in every way possible, and our ability to do so is best served by having fall sports. I feel very confident that every responsible avenue was explored in this pursuit, and I support this very difficult decision made by the Pac-12 CEO Group.

We know that you who support our athletics programs with such dedication and commitment also experience a loss with this decision, and we know that you have many questions that we will seek to answer as quickly as possible. Football season ticket holders have received several communications in recent months outlining the options available if a season was not played. Fans may receive a full refund, or they may either designate their 2020 season ticket payment as a tax-deductible donation to Utah Athletics or apply the payment to their 2021 season tickets. With all three options they retain their season ticket holder status for 2021. In light of the significant budget strain presented by these challenges, I encourage those who are able to please consider converting their 2020 season ticket payment to a tax-deductible donation. These donations will assist us in supporting our student-athletes and maintaining our academic, and eventually competitive, momentum.

We are extremely grateful for your continued support, loyalty and patience while we have worked through this process. It as an extremely disappointing situation, and the decision today is difficult to digest for all of us, but we also know we have incredibly resilient student-athletes, coaches and staff, and the most loyal, dedicated and passionate fans, and we will emerge stronger.

Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin:

Although our football program is disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to compete this fall, we know that this decision was made in the best interests of the health and safety of our student-athletes. I hurt for the young men and coaches in our football program who have devoted their lives to the game. But we will persevere and support our student-athletes and be ready for when we are able to compete again. I am extremely proud of how our entire staff, and most importantly, our student-athletes have handled—and will continue to handle—the ever-changing dynamics of 2020.

We are grateful for the leadership of President Robbins and Dave Heeke during this unprecedented time, as our deliberative and well though-out policies and procedures at the University of Arizona are surely among the best in the nation.

Oregon president Michael Schill:

“All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans. Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”