SEATTLE — Washington coach Jimmy Lake said Friday that the Pac-12 made the correct decision in postponing the football season, even as the Huskies athletic program faces a potentially massive financial hit from not having football in the fall.
At the same time Lake was speaking via video conference, Washington launched a new athletics fundraising campaign. In a letter, athletic director Jen Cohen noted that while budget impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic remain unclear, the department faces potential losses of up to $70 million.
Those budget shortfalls are largely due to an upcoming fall along the shore of Lake Washington that will not have football. But Lake reiterated on multiple occasions this was the appropriate course of action by the conference.
“The number one thing is the health and safety of our players, and our staff. And right now there’s way too many questions than answers,” said Lake, who became head coach after Chris Petersen resigned after last season. “I don’t want our team to be guinea pigs, or our staff to be guinea pigs. If things are not going to be safe we need to err on the side of caution.”
Lake said despite the postponement, he’s optimistic of the chances that there will be a winter or spring football season, assuming control of the virus is possible and testing becomes more rapid and readily available. He even threw out the possibility of traditional spring football practices taking place in November and December as the ramp up to a possible season in early 2021.
Washington would like to see a season of some sort from a financial perspective. The financial projections are grim and Washington is asking fans who have already purchased season tickets to consider their financial commitment a donation to the program or a credit toward 2021, although refunds are an option.
Lake said he believes the other power five conferences that have yet to postpone their seasons – the ACC, SEC and Big 12 – will eventually follow the lead of the Pac-12 and Big Ten.
“The Pac-12 and the Big Ten have led the way in terms of going to conference only. We’ve led the way in terms of keeping the health and safety of our staff and our players as our number one priority. And I expect all three (other) conferences to follow suit,” Lake said.
Lake said the team was in the middle of one of its summer workouts when word came down that the Pac-12 had decided to postpone the season. He complimented their efforts in adapting to the changing circumstances all the way back to March when the pandemic began.
“Of course our team was very disappointed, but I also think our medical team did a good job of describing the reasons why we’re postponing the season,” Lake said. “So even though there’s disappointment I know our team understands the reasons why we made the decision.”