The Big Ten announced Thursday it will contest only conference games for all fall sports, including football, for 2020 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
No other Power 5 conference has announced a similar change for its fall sports. The Southeastern Conference announced Thursday it continues to work with its schools to “determine the best path forward.” The Atlantic Coast Conference did announce earlier that it will delay fall sports until Sept. 1.
“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority,” the Big Ten’s statement said. “To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to conference-only schedules in those sports. … By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”
In addition, the Big Ten announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently permitted to engage in such activities. Any Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.