After speculation and uncertainty surrounding the college football season grew in recent days, the Big Ten Conference has announced that it is canceling its football season for the fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."
In the release, the Big Ten announced it will "continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring."
News from the Big Ten differs from speculation and reports coming out of the ACC which state that the conference is set on making the season work in the coming months.
The Mountain West Conference announced it would be canceling its fall season as well on Monday, with hopes to play in the spring instead.
The Big Ten decision does not come as much of a surprise. It was reported that the Big Ten was going to call the season off on Tuesday. Dan Patrick reported that news and said that the conference had an internal meeting on Sunday resulting in a 12-2 vote to not play a college football season this fall. Nebraska and Iowa were the two conference programs to vote in favor of playing this season.
Additionally, signs of hesitation were shown in the days leading up to the announcement. The Big Ten recently postponed its ramping-up period that included full-pad practices. The Big Ten did, however, recently unveil its 2020 conference-only schedule, leading to confusion in terms of what its stance was on playing football in 2020. Now, there is no more speculation.
The Pac-12 Conference is reportedly expected to make the same choice as the Big Ten, but has yet to make an official decision.
While it's understandable that the conference is prioritizing the health and safety of its players amid a pandemic that continues to impact thousands on a daily basis, the news is sure to upset players and coaches around the college football world. Big names such as Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, among others, have been campaigning to continue the season with the #WeWantToPlay movement on social media.
With players from all Power 5 conference uniting, they have asked for universal health and safety protocols, opt-outs for athletes that want them, guaranteed eligibility and voices from all conferences to be included in the decision. President Donald Trump also weighed in, supporting the call to play football in the fall on Monday and reiterating that in statements on Tuesday.
Despite the large faction that was on board with the status quo for now, the Big Ten will not be part of a potential college football season in the coming months. There is a chance that the season is played in the spring. Reports indicated that Warren and leaders around the conference preferred that idea, but no decision has been made at this time.
The Big Ten has now spoken, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow suit soon. With two of the five major conferences backing out, it will be up to the SEC, Big 12 and ACC to dictate the future of a 2020 college football season.
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