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Pac-12, Big Ten ponder fall football as another school punts

By Ralph D. Russo

AP College Football Writer

Officials in the Big Ten and Pac-12 resumed discussions Tuesday about whether college football should be played this fall as another program decided to punt on its coming season because of the pandemic.

Massachusetts became the second Northeast independent program in the highest tier of NCAA football to cancel the fall season, joining Connecticut. UMass is the 27th Bowl Subdivision program to put off fall sports in hopes of a spring season.

At the top of major college football, the Big Ten and Pac-12 were seriously considering pulling the plug on the fall, too.

Pac-12 presidents were scheduled to receive a report from the conference’s medical advisory panel suggesting contact and competitive sports activities should be paused. The Pac-12’s season is scheduled to start Sept. 26.

Dr. Dave Petron of the University of Utah, a member of the Pac-12’s student-athlete health and well-being board, said in a radio interview Monday night a report of recommendations had been given to Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Petron said the rate of positive COVID-19 tests in Pac-12 states will be a critical factor in determining whether teams can play because it determines how frequently schools should be testing their athletes.

“We feel really strongly in the Pac-12, and really to make football safe, that we need to get results back in less than 24 hours,” Petron said.

The panel was hopeful that point-of-care testing, which can provide fast results, could be used to supplement the more accurate but labor-intensive COVID-19 tests without straining local testing capabilities, he said.

Growing awareness about myocarditis, inflammation of the heart that has been found in some COVID-19 patients, also is raising concerns among some administrators throughout college sports.

A day after prominent Big Ten football coaches pushed back against the possibility of canceling, leadership in that conference again convened to consider whether to keep moving toward a season scheduled to begin Labor Day weekend.

The Big Ten put its preseason on hold last weekend, telling schools they could not coduct contact practices right around the time those should be starting, with games less than a month away.

Other college conferences have indicated they are moving forward, with the OK from their medical advisers.

“Our timeline is really based on the advice of a bio-statistician, way back in April said to me, listen, this is a news virus, we have not been through this before. so the longer you take to make decisions to better information you’ll have to make decisions,” Southeastern Conference Greg Sankey said on “Good Morning America.”

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