SEATTLE — On Thursday, Washington’s football season opener against Michigan was wiped out when the Big Ten decided on a conference-only schedule for fall sports.
Now, the rest of the Huskies’ non-conference schedule is gone, too.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Pac-12 CEO Group announced on Friday that it would also eliminate non-conference games for several fall sports, including football. The Pac-12 is also delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities until a series of health and safety indicators provide sufficient positive data. According to the release, those indicators have recently been trending in a negative direction.
“We are supportive of today’s Pac-12 announcement to move to conference-only scheduling for the fall,” UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen said in a release. “This decision was made with the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff as the top priority.
“With many uncertainties ahead, the decision to move to a conference-only model provides the safest environment and greatest flexibility for our 12 institutions. While many details regarding specifics around scheduling and timing are yet to be determined, we want to thank Husky Nation for its steadfast support, let them know we are diligently working to prepare for this fall and will share details as they become available.”
UW’s non-conference schedule included the much-anticipated season-opener against Michigan (Sept. 5) as well as Sacramento State (Sept. 12) and Utah State (Sept. 19).
Washington State initially scheduled to open the 2020 season, the first under new coach Nick Rolovich, against Utah State in Logan on Sept. 3. Home games against Houston (Sept. 12) and Idaho (Sept. 19) will also be eliminated from the 2020 slate.
If college football officials and those within the Pac-12 decide it’s still safe to move forward with the fall season, WSU would open on Sept. 26 against Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., and play its home opener on Oct. 3 against California.
The Huskies’ game against the Wolverines was the first in a scheduled home-and-home that’s set to continue in Ann Arbor, Mich. in 2021. On Thursday, Cohen said in a statement that she was discussing potential future return dates with Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel. Both the Huskies and Michigan have an opening in their non-conference schedules in 2023.
Right now, UW is scheduled to open Pac-12 play at Oregon on Oct. 3.
The Pac-12 does hope to play football and other sports this season, provided “it can meet the health and safety needs of its student-athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities.”
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”