COVID-19 issues impacting the Washington Huskies that caused Saturday’s game against the Oregon Ducks to be canceled will prevent Washington from facing the USC Trojans in the Pac-12 title game held in Los Angeles on Friday night.
Oregon will replace Washington and represent the Pac-12 North after finishing the campaign with a 3-2 record. Washington went 3-1.
This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football game cancellation policy and Football Championship Game policy due to Washington neither having the minimum 53 scholarship student-athletes available for the game nor the minimum number of scholarship student-athletes at a position group, in each case as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols, the conference explained in its official statement.
Under Pac-12 Football Championship Game policy, the team with the next best record in the North Division, Oregon, will represent the North Division against South Division Champion USC.
USC defeated the UCLA Bruins 43-38 on Saturday to improve to 5-0 on the year.
“I am crushed for our student-athletes, coaches and staff who have worked tirelessly to find a healthy way to compete this season,” Washington athletic director Jennifer Cohen said in a prepared statement. “Husky student-athletes come to Washington to compete for championships, so this one really hurts for everyone involved — our students, our coaches and our community of loyal Husky fans and alumni. Our football program has battled through adversity all year during these challenging times, and I am so disappointed they won’t have the opportunity to play and represent the University of Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game Friday night. The health and well-being of our students has been, and will always be, our top priority. As we have done since the start of the pandemic, we have followed the guidance and direction from our medical professionals in making this decision. With our inability to practice, and the significant impact on a key position group, there is no medical path forward to play this week. Our focus is on working with our medical team to get our team healthy again so our student-athletes can return to practice and to post-season competition.”
Washington head coach Jimmy Lake added:
“Our goal every season is to win the Pac-12 Championship. I am so proud of the work our team and staff have put in to position ourselves to attain that goal. Unfortunately, the virus is in our footprint. We have not been able to resume football activities and currently the entirety of one of our key position groups, deemed a critical position group by the Pac-12, is in quarantine. There is no path forward to practice or play this week. Our focus now is getting everyone healthy so we can resume football activities and prepare for a possible bowl game. We are crushed that we cannot bring home the Pac-12 trophy for our fans, staff and players.”
Washington paused all football activities last Wednesday due to positive COVID-19 cases and subsequent quarantines, and it was assumed by Friday evening that the Huskies wouldn’t be able to field a squad by Dec. 18.
The team’s status for a potential bowl game is unknown as of Monday’s announcement.