PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Members of the University of Oregon and Oregon State University’s athletic departments spoke with the Oregon Health Authority Wednesday afternoon to discuss COVID-19 health and safety plans for football student-athletes, Gov. Kate Brown’s office confirmed; the confirmation comes hours after the Big 10 Conference announced it would resume play itself.
Wednesday morning, the Big 10 Conference announced they had a start date for the college football season after previously announcing they would not have student-athletes play in their respective sports this fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Pac-12 conference, which is home to the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers, released a statement Wednesday morning saying because they “do not have approval” from state or local officials to start contact practice, they cannot move towards a season start date.
The conference had previously announced its student-athletes would not play this fall due to concerns about health and safety amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is the statement from the conference in full from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott: “At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice. We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition. We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time. We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.”
On Wednesday afternoon, KOIN 6 News spoke with Charles Boyle, Deputy Communications Director for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office.
The governor’s office said representatives of the University of Oregon and Oregon State University athletic departments met with the Oregon Health Authority Wednesday afternoon to discuss their COVID-19 health and safety plans.
The universities asked for, and have been granted, an exemption to OHA’s sports guidance. It’s the same exemption that has allowed the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns to play games during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, under the OHA guidance, the OHA must receive written plans for approval.
As of the time of this article’s publication, the governor’s office had not received any written plans from the Pac-12 on the upcoming season, nor have they gotten information on the conference’s new rapid testing proposal.
They say until they have that, they cannot move forward in the process.
“We want Oregon and Oregon State’s players to be able to focus on football while protecting their health and safety, ” Boyle said. “We also want to ensure that team practices will not be derailed by a COVID-19 outbreak that would threaten the health not only of the players and coaches, but of their university communities and the wider communities in Eugene and Corvallis.”