This is the time of year when Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott prepares his state of the conference speech ahead of the annual football media day event in Hollywood.
There isn’t a script to follow for 2020.
The Pac-12 has announced Scott is self-quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19.
The sobering Friday evening news dump came after the conference disclosed its latest financial statements, which document the widening disparity between the Pac-12’s revenue and its richer Power Five peers, and announced plans for conference-only schedules for fall sports.
"Commissioner Scott is continuing to carry on his duties remotely as normal," the Pac-12 release stated.
The Pac-12 plans to release details of its revamped football schedule by July 31. That at least gives the conference a few weeks to hope the positive coronavirus tests spike throughout its footprint dramatically declines.
Oregon’s attractive nonconference schedule — hosting FCS champion North Dakota State (Sept. 5), Big Ten champion Ohio State (Sept. 12) and Hawaii (Sept. 19) at Autzen Stadium — is officially canceled.
"We will work closely with all three schools to reschedule those games for a future year," athletic director Rob Mullens wrote in a letter to Ducks football season-ticket holders. "Oregon athletics will continue to follow guidance from the Governor's Office, the Oregon Health Authority, Lane County Public Health, and the UO Incident Management Team as we navigate this unprecedented situation."
Oregon football players have been back on campus for voluntary workouts since June 15. The mandatory team practices, which were set to begin Monday, have been postponed by the Pac-12.
The nonconference contracts include a scheduled payout of $300,000 to Ohio State, $650,00 to North Dakota State and $1 million to Hawaii. The Warriors also were supposed to play Arizona and UCLA this season.
It’s unclear how a court would interpret the force majeure language in the deals, which doesn’t specifically mention a global pandemic.
"Obviously with three Pac-12 teams on our football schedule, (Friday’s) decision affects us more than others," Hawaii athletic director David Matlin said in a statement. "We are disappointed because not only were we looking forward to opening the season at Arizona, we were excited to host UCLA for the first time in over 80 years and renew a series with Oregon.
"However, the decision was made in the best interest of student-athlete health and wellness, and we support that and will move on accordingly with the rest of our schedule."
The Pac-12’s average per-school payout for the 2019 fiscal year was $32.2 million, a 9% increase, but still lagging behind the Big Ten ($56 million), SEC ($45 million) and Big 12 (payments ranging from $38 to $42 million) schools.
The business of college athletics, which has been thriving for decades, is suddenly bracing for a financial plunge.
Football revenue accounts for over 70% of Oregon’s athletic department budget.
The Ivy League announced Wednesday it is canceling fall sports and won’t consider a plan to move them to the spring until after Jan. 1.
The Big Ten announced Thursday its plan to execute conference-only schedules in the fall.
Even the mighty SEC, which has won 11 of the last 17 football national championships and has the slogan "it just means more," is concerned the 2020 season will not be played.
"The direct reality is not good," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said during an interview on ESPN radio. "The notion that we've politicized medical guidance of distancing, and breathing masks, and hand sanitization, ventilation of being outside, being careful where you are in buildings … there's some very clear advice about — you can't mitigate and eliminate every risk, but how do you minimize the risk? ...
"We are running out of time to correct and get things right, and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be."
Contact reporter Ryan Thorburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-338-2330, and follow him on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn and Instagram @rg_ducksports. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.