Pac-12 CEOs to decide on season start Thursday; would be before Jan. 1

The Pac-12 CEO Group did not vote on plan for how to start its football season during a meeting Friday afternoon but instead says it will make a decision on the matter Thursday.

While no vote was expected, it had not been completely ruled out prior to the meeting. The group, which includes a president or chancellor from each of the conference's 12 universities, serves as the ultimate decision-maker for the conference.

"The Pac-12 CEO Group had an informative and productive meeting earlier today," the group said in a statement. "We plan to reconvene this coming Thursday, September 24, to make a decision regarding possible return to play prior to January 1. The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports will continue to be our number one priority in all of our decision making."

In the wake of the Big Ten's decision to start its season in October, the Pac-12 made significant progress over the past three days toward also playing this fall. In August, hours after the Big Ten decided to postpone fall sports, the Pac-12 followed suit, delaying all fall sports until at least Jan. 1.

On Wednesday, governors of both California and Oregon said there would be no restrictions in place at the state level that would prevent the Pac-12 from having a season. There are still local restrictions, primarily affecting Stanford and California, but there is a strong belief, sources said, that local governmental hurdles can be cleared in the coming days.

There had been a belief around the conference that teams would have to wait until the rapid tests from the Quidel Corporation were operational in early October before practice could begin, but there is growing optimism teams could ramp up workouts before then and begin padded practices once rapid testing is available, sources said. If that were to happen, it would give the Pac-12 a chance at opening the season in late October; however, a target date of Nov. 7 is viewed as the more realistic option, sources said.

The hope for the Pac-12 is that it could begin its season early enough to allow it to be part of the larger college football season and eligible for the College Football Playoff.