AP Source: Pac-12 sets Sept. 26 start for football schedule

The Pac-12 has set Sept. 26 as the start of its 10-game conference-only football schedule, joining the Southeastern Conference in pushing back its season by nearly a month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pac-12 decision was confirmed Friday by a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was preparing a formal announcement.

The Pac-12 announced three weeks ago it would eliminate nonconference games to give its 12 members a better chance to manage complications and disruptions caused by the health crisis. On Friday, university presidents approved a model that adds an additional cross-divisional game to each team’s slate and pushes the start back three weeks.

The Pac-12′s schedule announcement is the third for a Power Five football conference in as many days, following the Atlantic Coast Conference and the SEC. The ACC said it would play 10 conference games and give schools the opportunity to play one nonconference game. The SEC, like the Pac-12 and Big Ten, is playing only within the conference.

Still to come is a reworked schedule from the Big Ten, which was the first major-college football conference to announce its teams would only play within the league, and a scheduling decision from the Big 12.

The scheduled start of the college football season was Labor Day weekend. The NCAA is permitting teams to begin preseason practice 29 days before the date of their originally scheduled season-opener, which would be next week for most of FBS.

In the Pac-12, several of its schools, including USC, UCLA and California, are operating under restrictions set by local authorities to slow the spread of coronavirus that would prevent football teams from practicing.

Two Pac-12 states, California and Arizona have been among the hardest hit by a surge in COVID-19 cases over the last month.