TEMPE, AZ — First, it was the Ivy League canceling all fall sports, then the ACC pushing back the start date of the fall season to September 1. But the Big Ten made the biggest move thus far on Thursday, pivoting to a conference-only schedule for all fall sports, including football. That move will likely reverberate throughout the college athletics landscape.
According to The Athletic, the Pac-12 is expected to make a similar decision in the coming days. In a letter to Sun Devil Nation, Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson said they are continuing to look at all angles.
“We are entering a critical period of time which will inform us of many pieces to the larger puzzle of our fall seasons,” Anderson wrote. “Until we have more clarity on those timelines and the parameters in which we'll need to adhere to, we will continue to prepare for all scenarios to ensure the safest environment possible for the entire ASU community.”
While Stanford cut 11 of its 36 varsity sports earlier this week, Anderson said ASU is committed to avoiding such drastic measures through every means possible. Since reopening athletic facilities on campus for voluntary workouts on June 15, ASU has phased back more than 150 student-athletes from 20 of 26 programs.
If the Pac-12 does implement a conference-only schedule, ASU football would lose home games against NAU and BYU, as well as a road game at UNLV. Instead, the Sun Devils would kick off the season September 26 at USC, a game that could have some serious Pac-12 South implications right off the bat.
The University of Arizona is scheduled to host Hawaii in week zero, Portland State the following week and then travel to Texas Tech two weeks after that. Prior to Lubbock, the Wildcats have an early conference game against Stanford in Tucson on September 12.
What’s known at this point with the Big Ten’s decision, marquee games like Ohio State traveling to Oregon and Michigan visiting Washington are no longer.
The ACC could also soon join in the conference-only games, while the SEC is reportedly looking into it. If that trend continues, where does that leave independent schools like Notre Dame and BYU for the fall season? They won’t have much of a schedule remaining if that’s the case.
Like everything during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are far more questions than answers.