Utah-BYU game canceled as Pac-12 announces move to conference-only games for fall sports

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Utah-BYU football game September 3rd will no longer take place

SAN FRANCISCO (ABC4 Sports) – The Pac-12 announced a move to conference-only games in several sports, including football, because of safety concerns regarding COVID-19.

Details of the scheduling will be released no later than July 31st, but the Utah-BYU game scheduled for September 3rd at Rice-Eccles Stadium has been cancelled.

Utah’s non-conference schedule included home games against BYU (Sept. 3), Montana State (Sept. 12), and at Wyoming (Sept. 19).

Now, Utah’s first football game will take place September 26th at Cal.

BYU was slated to play three Pac-12 teams on the road this season, at Utah (Sept. 3), at Arizona State (Sept. 19) and at Stanford (Nov. 28). With the Big Ten announcement on Thursday that only conference games will be played, BYU also lost games against Michigan State (Sept. 12) and Minnesota (Sept. 26) as well.

That means BYU currently has just seven games on its schedule, with its first game set for October 2nd against Utah State.

Utah and BYU are scheduled to play again in 2021 before taking a two-year break in 2022 and 2023. The rivalry series will then resume in 2024.

With the Pac-12 announcement, Utah State also lost two games. The Aggies were scheduled to host Washington State in the season opener on Sept. 5, as well as play at Washington on Sept. 19.

Utah athletic director Mark Harlan released the following statement Friday:

“While we support the Pac-12 Conference’s decision today to only play conference games this fall in football, volleyball and soccer, we are disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. We know it is particularly difficult to miss the rivalry matchups with BYU in these sports, and we look forward to continuing those as soon as we are able. These are truly unprecedented times, and we are working diligently to determine appropriate solutions while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved. Our conference and university leadership has provided great support and direction, informed by leading health experts and data. We will work with our colleagues at each of the non-conference institutions impacted by today’s decision to reschedule those contests, and we will provide more information about our schedules and our home events when they become available.”

As of now, Utah has nine Pac-12 games on it schedule, but could expand to include Oregon and Stanford, which are currently not on the Utes 2020 schedule.

The Pac-12 said any student-athlete choosing not to participate in collegiate athletics in the coming academic year because of COVID-19 safety concerns will remain on scholarship and in good standing with their teams.

In addition, Harlan announced on Friday that the athletic department will slash $8 million from its budget. Harlan, head football coach Kyle Whittingham and men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak will all take pay cuts.

Whittingham signed a 5-year, $22 million extension through the 2023 season, while Krystkowiak agreed to an 8-year, $25-million extension in 2015.

Here is the full statement released by the Pac-12 on Friday:

“The Pac-12 CEO Group announced today that the fall season for several Pac-12 sports, including football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, would schedule Conference-only games, and that it is delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities, until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provided sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities.  The CEO Group made clear that it hopes to play football and all other fall sports provided that it can meet the health and safety needs of its student-athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities.  Today’s decision will result in the start dates for the impacted sports being delayed. The decision is effective immediately across all Pac-12 member universities and was made following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group earlier today.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “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.”

“Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.

Pac-12 student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the coming academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.

The Pac-12 has developed a series of potential fall sport scheduling models including Conference-only schedules and delayed season starts.  Details on Conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31.”

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

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