Pac-12 Coaches, Athletic Directors React To Fall Sports Being Postponed

Aug 11, 2020, 7:24 PM
Pac-12 Logo on the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium...
Pac-12 Logo on the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium (Photo by Getty Images)
(Photo by Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The news on Tuesday changed the college football landscape after the Pac-12 announced that fall sports were postponed until at least January 1, 2021.

That left many student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors and others expressing their thoughts through statements and social media.

At the time of this story, 11 schools released statements following the announcement from the conference.

Utah Utes

Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan wrote a letter to the student-athletes and fans shortly after the official announcement from the Pac-12 was released.

Head football coach Kyle Whittingham released a statement on Twitter.

“We’ve known for some time that this was a possibility, however, it is still disappointing news for our program, our fans and especially our student-athletes. We respect the guidance of the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee and the decision made today by the Pac-12 CEO Group, and will will continue to put our focus on our player’s academics and their development. Our number one priority is always the well-being of our players, and their health and safety comes first.”

Arizona Wildcats

Arizona Director of Athletics Dave Heeke released the following statement:

“Arizona Athletics supports the Pac-12 Conference’s decision to postpone all sports competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year with considerations to resume competition in 2021 if conditions improve,” Heeke wrote. “This decision was made after consultation with athletics directors and with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee who expressed concern with moving forward with contact practice. Health and safety have been the shared guiding principles of the University of Arizona and our athletics department throughout the re-entry process, and I want to thank President Robbins and University administration for their unwavering leadership during these unprecedented times.

“In alignment with the University of Arizona’s plans to welcome students and staff back to campus, Arizona Athletics will continue it’s ongoing re-entry processes, medical screenings and athletic activities,” the statement continued.

“This is an incredibly difficult outcome for the entire Wildcat Family of student-athletes, coaches, staff, alumni and supporters. I have a great deal of empathy for these student-athletes and the impact this will have on them personally,” Heeke wrote. “Representing our University, community and state in competition is the foundation of the mission of Arizona Athletics and the Wildcat Way. However, the endless hard work of our student-athletes, coaches and staff in preparation for fall seasons is something we can all be proud of. The work of everyone who represents the Wildcat Way over the last five months has been an outstanding display of unity and resiliency. Our athletics department will continue its comprehensive re-entry planning in collaboration with campus and community partners, the NCAA and the Pac-12 Conference. We remain committed to the safe and healthy return to campus and competition as well as protecting the health of the entire Wildcat Family.”

Head football coach Kevin Sumlin released the following statement:

“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,” Sumlin wrote. “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 thought-out policies and procedures at the University of Arizona are surely among the best in the nation.”

California Golden Bears

Chancellor Carol Christ and Athletic Director Jim Knowlton released the following joint statement:

“We are aligned in our support for the Pac-12’s decision to postpone fall sports,” the statement read. “While the decision was difficult, it is consistent with our shared commitment to the health and well-being of Cal’s student-athletes, coaches and staff. Our hearts go out to the student-athletes who will not have the opportunity to compete this fall. We are incredibly proud of how they have been navigating the disappointments and uncertainties surrounding their athletic pursuits, and we will do all that we can to support them during these difficult time. We look forward to the day when they will be able to, once again, train for and compete in the sports they love. We look forward to the day when we can, together with members of Cal’s extended family, once again, cheer them on as they pursue excellence on the field of play.”

Head football coach Justin Wilcox released the following statement:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously put all of us in an incredibly difficult and complex situation,” Wilcox wrote. “I am disappointed for our student-athletes that there will not be a Pac-12 football season this fall. They have had a great attitude through all of this uncertainty. But our ultimate responsibility is to keep everyone involved in our program as healthy and safe as possible. We have listened to and been guided by the advice of our health experts throughout this process, and our presidents and chancellors have had to make difficult decisions. Even though there will not be Pac-12 football games this fall, we must continue to help our student-athletes remain healthy and safe, and we look forward to playing football when we are given the green light to do so.”

Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado Athletic Director Rick George released the following statement:

“The decision to postpone [competition] was not made in haste,” George wrote. “[The health and safety of our student-athletes have] always been and will remain our top priority…We cannot let this time in history derail all of the incredible work and progress that we have been able to achieve…”

Oregon Ducks

Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens released the following statement:

“I feel for our student-athletes, coaches and staff on such a difficult day, and I appreciate their leadership during this time,” Mullens wrote. “The health and safety of our student-athletes will always guide our decisions and be our top priority, and we will continue to provide our first-class standard of care to our student-athletes without interruption, including scholarship support, full medical and mental health services, academic support and other support services. We have worked diligently during the past several months with our Pac-12 Conference peers, university leadership, medical experts, and our local and state health officials to find a safe path for fall sports competition. Unfortunately, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 precludes us from moving forward with contact at this time.

“We appreciate the expert advice from the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Group, Lane County Public Health, and the Oregon Health Authority, as well as all of the incredible efforts of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff in making our measured, phased return to workouts so successful to this point,” the statement read. “We will follow the guidance from public health experts and collaborate with peer institutions in monitoring this situation, in the hopes that improving conditions will allow us to consider a return to competition for our student-athletes.”

Oregon State Beavers

Athletic Director Scott Barnes released a letter to the student-athletes and fans.

Head football coach Jonathan Smith released the following statement:

“After meeting with our players today, I feel extremely disappointed for them with today’s announcement. They have been working hard, following protocols, doing everything right to allow them to play a season this fall,” Smith wrote. “With so much going on right now, seeing your teammates everyday and working toward a common goal together was such a positive in everyone’s lives. At the end of the day though, we need to feel confident it is safe to play for all involved and we are not there yet. When we get there, I know this team will be prepared and ready to play!”

Stanford Cardinal

Stanford Athletic Director Bernard Muir released a letter to the Cardinal fans and players.

UCLA Bruins

UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond released the following statement:

“Throughout the pandemic, every decision UCLA makes – both at the campus level and at the conference level – is guided by our priority of safety for the entire Bruin community, and we follow the recommendations of public health officials and medical experts,” Jarmond wrote. “I extend my sincere gratitude to the members of UCLA’s Return to Training Task Force and Future Planning Task Force, the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee and the state and county officials who collaborated diligently and methodically over the past several months to create a path back to practice and competition while prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Now, despite the tremendous efforts of so many, medical experts have advised us that the risk to compete this fall is too significant. UCLA Athletics is in complete support of today’s decision by the Pac-12 CEO Group to postpone all sport competitions through the end of the calendar year; no game is worth jeopardizing the health of even one person.

“I am disappointed for all those impacted, especially our student-athletes, but if the past few months have shown us anything, it is just how resilient our young people are,” Jarmond continued. “As a conference, we will continue to explore how best to move forward. In the meantime, our focus will be on the continued support of our student-athletes’ academic success, physical and mental health and overall well-being.”

USC Trojans

USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn released the following statement, below:

Trojans head football coach Clay Helton also released a statement:

“Today, guided by the recommendations of our doctors and medical professionals, the Pac-12 Conference has decided to postpone the 2020 football season,” Helton wrote. “While I am extremely disappointed that our student-athletes and coaching staff will not get the opportunity to compete at this time, we will always support decisions that are made to protect the health and safety of our players and staff. I am very proud of how our football team has conducted themselves and for all the hard work they have put in this year in preparation for a season. Our university and athletics department are committed to providing all the services for our student-athletes to function at the highest level, both academically and athletically, while following all county, state and national guidelines. I am confident that we will come out of this a stronger, more resilient football team and look forward to getting the opportunity to compete and showcase all the hard work that has been put in. Together, we will continue to fight on!”

Washington Huskies

Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, Director of Athletics Jen Cohen and head football coach Jimmy Lake released statements.

Washington State Cougars

Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun released the following statement:

“Today the Pac-12 Conference announced that all fall sports will be postponed,” Chun wrote. “While WSU supports this decision, there is a profound sadness and disappointment for our fall sports student-athletes, coaches and staff. They gave extraordinary effort to create an environment committed to health, safety and well-being since their voluntary return in June. The commitment, patience and hard work they have shown should be commended. This year continues to be a winding road with unforeseen twists and turns. Regardless, as a WSU Athletics Family, we will continue to serve, support and prioritize our student-athletes in all we do.”

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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