In a statement Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom insisted that there are no state restrictions on college football’s return to play.
“There’s nothing in the state guidelines that denies the Pac-12 from having conference games,” Newsom said. “We’re committed to working with the Pac-12, with the NCAA, to keep our kids safe, to keep our coaches safe, to keep our coaching staff and friends and family safe and to keep the larger campus communities safe.”
This press conference came after USC football players released a letter to Newsom on Tuesday, requesting an easing of restrictions in order to play in light of the Pac-12’s recent partnership with Quidel to provide rapid COVID-19 testing at all campuses.
Cal football players, including quarterback Chase Garbers and wide receiver Nikko Remigio, voiced their support for the USC players and their request. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott previously indicated that local and state government requirements in California and Oregon were one of the roadblocks in returning to play.
Newsom, however, said the state government had worked with the NCAA and Pac-12 to create those guidelines, mentioning the use of 12-player cohorts when practicing to prevent the spread of the disease. He insisted that there are no restrictions on returning to play.
“That has been a misrepresentation of the facts,” Newsom said.
Scott and Newsom had a conversation regarding the guidelines hours before the press conference. After Newsom’s press conference, the Pac-12 released a statement on Twitter, referencing conversations with Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
“There are no state restrictions on our ability to play sports in light of our adherence to strict health and safety protocols and stringent testing requirements,” Scott said in the statement. “Our California and Oregon universities will now each individually and immediately reach out to their relevant county public health officials to seek clarification on what is required to achieve the same clearance to resume contact practice and competition.”
Alameda County restrictions currently prohibit public events and gatherings, including live sports audiences and recreational sports. However, the Oakland Athletics have begun playing at the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland without fans, opening the possibility for amateur sports such as college football.
Jasper Kenzo Sundeen covers football and is the deputy special issues editor. Contact him at [email protected].