But the Pac-12 said its vote was unanimous.
Dr. Doug Aukerman, the senior associate athletic director at Oregon State and the head of the conference’s medical advisory board, said his group had two major concerns: that the virus was not under control near the conference’s universities, and that there were too many unknowns about health risks related to the virus, including heart damage.
With Pac-12 teams scheduled to begin training camp next week, it appeared all but impossible to play safely, officials said.
“We’re essentially going into a contact season asking them right now to disregard a lot of the guidelines, both federally and locally,” Aukerman said.
He added: “Playing contact sports, we know there’s going to be a higher risk of spread.”
The Pac-12 had moved its planned kickoff to Sept. 26. But league officials saw no sign that conditions on campuses would improve as students began returning, and Commissioner Larry Scott said the presidents wanted to give athletes certainty, even if it amounted to bad news.
Some athletes were not appeased by the decision.
The Pac-12 unity group, which for the last two weeks has pressed Scott for greater health protections, among other demands, issued a statement criticizing the conference’s “haphazard” response to the virus and what it called a lack of transparency with players. The group called for preserving athletes’ eligibility — something Scott said the conference would push for from the NCAA — as well as access to athletic department resources and uniform safety measures when football returns.
The financial consequences of the decisions will be enormous, starving schools of tens of millions of dollars unless the leagues can play in the spring. Even if they do, perhaps arresting a greater economic calamity, the delay of football revenues will cause new pain on campuses and in communities across the country. The two conferences together include 26 universities, including Iowa, Michigan, Stanford and Washington.
Wisconsin, for instance, has said it could miss out on up to $100 million without a football season, and top leaders at the university said Tuesday that the decision not to play this fall would hurt “not only our athletic department, but the many businesses and members of our community who rely on Badger events to support their livelihoods.”