At the time, the league detailed its medical advisers’ thinking, warning that “community prevalence remains very high in much of the Pac-12 footprint” and declaring that there needed to be greater testing capacity. It stifled any internal dissent, but the league’s caution was helped along by public officials who imposed restrictions on gatherings, effectively forcing cancellations of practices.
Last week, though, not long after the league became the first Power 5 conference to strike a deal for daily testing, the atmosphere around the conference began to shift rapidly. Players lobbied Gov. Gavin Newsom of California to ease restrictions, and he and Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon agreed that the state governments would not impede the Pac-12. The local authorities also widely agreed to pave the way for athletics.
Still, the hours before the meeting of Pac-12 leaders showed how troubled the path to a season might be: Officials in Boulder County, Colo., home of the Colorado Buffaloes, restricted gatherings of people who are between the ages of 18 and 22 and specifically said that people in that age range could not participate in practices for intercollegiate sports teams.
But the league has been under mounting pressure, particularly since it became the lone Power 5 conference poised not to play this autumn.
President Trump, who had been badgering the Big Ten but, according to conference officials, did little to aid that league’s plans, turned his public attention to the Pac-12 last week, once the Big Ten had relented.
“You’re the only one now,” the president said of the league last Wednesday. “Open up. Open up, Pac-12. Get going. Said the same thing to Big Ten and they did, and now I’m saying it to Pac-12. You have time. You really have time right now. Get going.”
By then, the league was already considering its options — and by the end of the week, it was telegraphing the decision its chancellors and presidents made on Thursday.