Pac-12 eliminates non-conference games from 2020 schedule

A day after the Big Ten announced it would play a conference-only schedule for several fall sports in 2020, the Pac-12 Conference said it would do the same.

The decision, which comes as coronavirus numbers surge in multiple states within the Pac-12 footprint, affects scheduling for football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, the conference announced.

The decision ends whatever hope remained of salvaging this year’s Rocky Mountain Showdown, which would’ve been the first time Colorado State hosted Colorado for football in Fort Collins since 1996. The Buffs also lose a home game against Fresno State on Sept. 12 and a trip to Texas A&M on Sept. 19.

It has not been determined when or if those non-conference football games will be rescheduled. As it stands, CU has agreements in place that fill its non-conference slate through 2028.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a news release. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

As part of Friday afternoon’s announcement, the Pac-12 said it would delay the start of mandatory practices until local health indicators improve “to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities.” In its statement, the conference stated it still hopes to play football and other fall sports this year, but will only do so after it can meet the “safety needs of its student-athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities.”

There was no indication of how many games would be included in a conference-only schedule this fall, or what that schedule might look like. The conference said it is “developing a series of fall scheduling models that includes conference-only schedules and delayed season starts.” A decision will be made by July 31.

Student-athletes who choose not to play during the 2020-21 academic year due to COVID-19 concerns will have their scholarships honored, according to the conference.

Asked about the potential of losing those non-conference games against CSU, Fresno State and Texas A&M on Thursday, junior CU defensive end Terrance Lang expressed disappointment.

“I really was looking forward to that Texas A&M game, a big SEC game,” he said. “Right now, I just want to play football, so I’m not complaining.”

The Mountain West Conference has yet to determine how it will handle its non-conference schedule in 2020, conference spokesman Javan Hedlund told The Post. The Rams currently do not have an open slot until 2025.

“Our membership has had conversations every week for the past four months regarding fall sports competition,” Hedlund said. “They have been diligent, thoughtful and creative in those discussions and are putting the health and safety of our student-athletes at the forefront of all of those discussions.”

Post reporter Andy Yamashita contributed to this story.

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