Big Ten may cancel season as COVID pounds US



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US College Football Big 10 conference Image: medium.com

In a historic move, the Big Ten is expected to cancel its Fall college football season as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a heavy toll in the United States.

“It’s done,” one high-ranking source in the Big Ten said on Monday afternoon.

The Big Ten Conference is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States. It is based in Rosemont, Illinois. For over eight decades this conference consisted of 10 universities, and presently has 14 member and two affiliate institutions.

Reliable sources stated that the Presidents were not open to the idea of playing sports in the conference this Fall. Michigan and Michigan State — which both have physicians as Presidents — were among the schools in favor of not playing.

Multiple sources further added that early on Monday morning Presidents voted 12-2 to not play this Fall, though the Big Ten said Monday afternoon no official vote had taken place. Media reports stated that Iowa and Nebraska were the two schools in favor of playing.

Sources further provided that a formal announcement in this regard would be made soon and everything was “very fluid” as the Big Ten wanted to coordinate any announcement with the other Power Five conferences.

Since then, coaches and players in the conference, including Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Ohio State’s Ryan Day and Nebraskas Scott Frost and OSU quarterback Justin Fields, have lobbied for the season to commence this Fall.

Presidents were trying to figure out how all this fits in with other conferences and they want Athletic Directors to handle logistics of determining if spring season is possible, sources said. The situation reportedly is changing by the hour, which is why the Big Ten has not made its announcement official.

Last week, the Big Ten revealed an updated 10-game conference-only schedule for 2020, and on Friday teams in the conference opened the Fall camp.

The Big Ten schedule apple cart has got upset as players across US are opting out because of concerns about how the deadly virus could impact their short- and long-term health. Four Michigan State players said they wouldn’t play in 2020, and one team source said more players were expected to follow suit.

MSU linebacker Marcel Lewis, who opted out recently, said he lost a family member to the virus and doesn’t want to “risk play”. Offensive tackle Justin Stevens, who also opted out, said he has a respiratory condition that could make him “high-risk”. A number of other players around the Big Ten — including Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Purdue wideout Rondale Moore — also announced they would not play this season and begin preparation for the 2021 National Football League (NFL) draft.

Indiana offensive lineman Brady Feeney, whose is suffering from COVID-19-related heart issues and whose mother wrote an impassioned message imploring the college football world to take the virus seriously, took to Twitter urging schools and players “to listen to our medical experts”.

Brady Feeney wrote, “Covid-19 is serious. I never thought that I would have serious health complications from this virus, but look at what happened.”

Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security and one of the members of the group advising the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on COVID-19, said a college football season no longer appeared feasible.

“When we were trying to think about ways to make it safe, we were at a time when there was kind of more control on the virus, and you’ve got less control of the virus now than we had several months earlier during when the stay at home orders were just starting to be lifted. And then the other thing that’s made it what made it much more difficult is football is a contact sport, which is going to require some amount of testing of players. The turnaround times for outpatient testing are really unacceptable for being able to safely clear somebody to play,” Adalja added.

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