Four schools are in counties where the seven-day average is above the 25 new daily cases per 100,000 threshold that the Harvard Global Health Institute classifies as uncontrolled spread: Colorado (43.3), Washington State (33.7), Arizona (28.9) and Utah (28.0). Also, there are four schools that are just now welcoming students back to campus, an event that has led to outbreaks around the country. Oregon State began classes Wednesday and Washington, Oregon and U.C.L.A. begin the fall term next week.
Lane County, which includes the University of Oregon, had 48 new cases on Wednesday and another 47 on Thursday as students arrived back on campus.
“The community side of it doesn’t really seem to matter,” said Scott Jedlicka, an assistant professor of sport management at Washington State who noted that National Guard troops have been brought in to do testing in Pullman, Wash. “When the major conferences first started shutting down in August, the rhetoric made me think we could be on the cusp of a multiyear shutdown: This disease is too dangerous, we can’t control the environment and play safely. I remember thinking what is going to change until we get a vaccine to move that needle? Now, we have the answer.”
As Schill made his case in a remote news conference that the Pac-12 was being deliberate and judicious, and had the health and welfare of its athletes at the forefront, it is worth nothing that the most diligent plans do not always play out as they were penciled out. The testing protocols must be put into place, and school officials who are conducting the testing must be trained. The first Pac-12 games are scheduled for Nov. 7, a lifetime away.
It seems almost certain there will be some hiccups. On Friday, Georgia State postponed its Saturday game with Charlotte because of an outbreak on its team, bringing the number of games that have been postponed or wiped out in four weeks to 22 in the top tier of college football.
Whether that is a sign that these plans, cobbled together in a time of unprecedented uncertainty, are working or that college football isn’t worth the risk may simply depend on your level of investment.
John Branch contributed reporting.