After prematurely postponing its basketball season, the Pac-12 decides to play on time after all


After announcing last month that no Pac-12 schools would compete in athletics before January 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pac-12 CEO Group announced Thursday that the conference will resume its football, basketball and winter sport seasons, more or less, effective immediately.

Football will start Nov. 6.

Basketball will start Nov. 25.

As a result, every Division I power conference is now scheduled to compete in a timeframe that allows its member institutions to each play for the same national title. So this is obviously great news for all involved. But, man, I’ll still never understand why the Pac-12 announced what it announced back on Aug. 11. Listen, all’s well that ends well, I guess. But the fact that the Pac-12 announced on Thursday that its member institutions will be allowed to play basketball games before January 2021 is a reminder that announcing such would not be the case 44 days earlier was utterly ridiculous and unnecessary.

There was just no reason to do that at that time.

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Which is not to suggest the Pac-12 should be ridiculed for taking COVID-19 more seriously than some other conferences seem to be taking it. As someone who lives in a state where too many people refuse to wear masks in public while stupidly screaming COVID-19 is a “hoax” or “just the flu,” I commend anybody who, and anything that, errs on the side of caution. So the Pac-12 should not be criticized for erring on the side of caution. It’s just that making definitive statements in early August about what will and will not be possible or practical in November and December never made even a lick of sense.

If there’s one thing we know about this pandemic, it’s that we learn more about it, and how to handle it or mishandle it, every week. One week, it takes 14 days to get a test result. The next, it takes 15 minutes. So what the Pac-12 should’ve said in early August, if it had to say anything at all about basketball, is something along these lines: “Based on what we know right now, we do not anticipate allowing our schools to play basketball before January 2021. But, obviously, that’s not a decision we need to make in early August because a lot could change by late November. So we will continue to monitor this virus and any progress made as it relates to testing and treatment, and then we’ll make a decision on basketball at a later and more appropriate time.”

Nobody would’ve had an issue with that statement.

It would’ve been honest and sensible.

But rather than go that route, the Pac-12 instead pulled the plug prematurely on basketball in a way that largely caught its coaches off-guard and caused frustration — only to reverse course 44 days later. And, make no mistake, it’s great that the Pac-12 is reversing course. Don’t get it twisted. I commend the league for joining what should be a fun and weird party. It’s just that, in the simplest of terms, the declaration about basketball in early August was so short-sighted and unnecessary that it’s difficult to understand why obviously smart people decided to create that self-inflicted headache and embarrassment.

Either way, again, all’s well that ends well.

And, it appears, this is ending well.

If the college basketball season starts on time on Nov. 25, the Pac-12 now plans to be a part of it along with every other power conference. Yes, the path Larry Scott’s league took to get to this point was winding and silly. But at least they got here — better late, and clumsily, than never.





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