The Pac-12’s “most aggressive” return plan is currently targeting mid-to-late November, according to a source familiar with the league’s discussions.
Earlier this month, the Pac-12 announced its partnership with Quidel Corporation, a manufacturer of FDA-approved rapid tests that will allow the league to test its student-athletes daily for the coronavirus.
While the new testing systems will be on every campus by the end of the month, the league still expects to need a short time to train staff how to use them, and ensure the proper testing protocols are in place.
Schools in the states of California and Oregon still have not been cleared by public health officials to resume contact practices, let alone games. The league’s presidents and chancellors wouldn’t consider a vote to return until that status changes. Ideally, the Pac-12 would like its teams to have six weeks to practice and physically prepare for the season, the source said.
To get to a mid-November start between now and when the tests arrive, the Pac-12 would have to be cleared by public health experts, the source said. Late November could be more realistic considering the double crisis with the pandemic and wildfires that continue to singe the Pacific Northwest.
The conference announced in August that it was postponing all competitive sports through the calendar year, citing the need for “rapid point of care tests” as part of its decision.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott called the purchase of the new tests a “game-changer” and said the availability of rapid testing will allow the conference to consider resuming competitive activities before Jan. 1, 2021.