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UA president Robert C. Robbins explains why Pac-12 needed to 'pause, regroup'
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Pac-12 Postponements

UA president Robert C. Robbins explains why Pac-12 needed to 'pause, regroup'

Robbins says Pac-12 needs more time to study effects of the virus

Arizona Wildcats vs. Chaminade Silverswords college basketball

University of Arizona president Robert Robbins flashes his ball-handling skills during a break in action during the first half of the University of Arizona Wildcats vs. Chaminade University Silverswords college exhibition men's basketball game, Nov. 4, 2018, in McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

Over the course of the last several weeks and months, University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins has been on calls with the Pac-12 CEO group and heard from infectious disease experts and other high-ranking university officials on the prospects of a fall sports season. 

Tuesday morning, Robbins and the rest of the Pac-12 CEO group reached a unanimous decision based on the information they'd been provided: postpone all of the conference's athletic competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar due to concerns over the pandemic. 

"It's a good time for us to pause," Robbins said on Eye on the Ball, a local radio show, Tuesday night. 

Robbins explained during his interview that putting safety first and erring on the side of caution was the overwhelming reason why the group felt the need to shutdown, even with competition still over a month away. 

The league's medical experts determined that a season could not safely be played at this time with questions still surrounding the lasting impacts of COVID-19.

"We're obviously learning new things every day about this absolutely devastating virus," Robbins said. "And I think to be able to take some time, look at the data, learn more about some of the devastating effects this virus can have on us. I'm in support of the decision." 

An ESPN report published Monday reported links between COVID-19 and a rare heart condition known as myocarditis. Robbins said he is aware of the links and had received data on it from a Big Ten colleague, but it was not the tipping point in the conference's decision.

"No, I think it's a whole series of things," Robbins said. "We've got schools that, the coaches, I don't even know how they have a practice. They can't bring students back to their facilities."

UCLA and USC are two Pac-12 schools that have yet to receive clearance from local health departments to practice in large groups and were scheduled to play each other Sept. 26. 

Robbins also mentioned that he's been cognizant of the somewhat contradicting reports from medical experts across other conferences, such as an ACC medical advisor.

"The data that they were looking at said maybe it's safe for players to go out. But we collectively as a group of CEOs thought it's better for us to take a pause, regroup," Robbins said. "See what it looks like over the coming months as we bring our students back to campus."

On a conference call Tuesday afternoon, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference will explore models of a spring football season. Robbins expressed concern over what will be different in a few months from now in order to play a spring season for football — and other sports such as basketball — but felt that a vaccine and improved safety measures would be key.  

Robbins also brought up the idea of a "bubble" model that the NBA, NHL and MLS are currently implementing. He reiterated Scott's stance of the unlikelihood of it happening due to college sports not operating the same way as professional leagues, but he did not completely rule it out. 

"I would be willing to go down that pathway if that's what it took to for us to safely play, test all of our athletes every day," he said. "But this is just not the time and I agree with the decision we all made collectively."

"And I know it's going to be disappointing for them, but I hope that we can turn things around come the New Year."

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Alec has been with the Star since October 2019. He writes stories and produces digital content primarily about the Arizona Wildcats. Alec graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2020.

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  • Updated

Ryan Reynolds, who handles scheduling as UA’s director of basketball operations, said Tuesday he could not comment yet because it was too early to tell what will happen with the nonconference schedule — and indicated he told pretty much the same thing to one of the Wildcats’ expected opponents, Cal Baptist, after it reached out on Tuesday.

A Pac-12 spokesman said it is possible that nonconference games could be rescheduled but that no decisions have been made. An effort to reach UA coach Sean Miller for comment was unsuccessful.

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