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Big Ten announces October return on Wednesday

Mike Florio and Charean Williams discuss the NFL's decision enforce coaches wearing masks on the sidelines to help protect against COVID-19.

The Big Ten is set to play football.

The conference postponed all fall sports on August 11 due to concerns about playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but received pushes to reconsider that decision from players, coaches and some of the conference’s schools. That resulted in new rounds of meetings to discuss a return to play that culminated in a decision to start the season in October.

Games will begin on the weekend of October 24.

“Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force have accomplished to ensure the health, safety and wellness of student-athletes, coaches and administrators.”

One of the key factors in the about face is the availability of rapid daily COVID-19 testing that schools believe will allow them to keep infection from spreading throughout teams this fall. The fact that other schools, including three of the other four Power Five conferences, have moved forward with the season since the Big Ten’s postponement.

The decision will allow NFL scouts to check out players who hope to move into the NFL next year, although several of the conference’s top prospects have already announced that they won’t be playing another season of college football.