Thursday, October 29, 2020

Big Ten releases plan and schedule for the 2020 conference-only football season

August 5, 2020
<p>Freshman cornerback Davion Williams (14) celebrates a downed punt during the game against Michigan on Nov. 16, 2019, at Michigan Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Wolverines, 44-10.</p>

Freshman cornerback Davion Williams (14) celebrates a downed punt during the game against Michigan on Nov. 16, 2019, at Michigan Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Wolverines, 44-10.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

The Big Ten has released its plan and schedule for the upcoming football season that will include 10 games versus six division opponents and four outside-the-division opponents.

According to the Big Ten, non-football fall sports will be postponed through at least Sept. 5, and schedules will be released at a later date.

As for testing protocols, all sports will be required to test their student-athletes a minimum of once a week and at least twice a week for “high-contact” sports. Testing for the student-athletes and staff will need to be conducted within three days of the upcoming game. According to the Big Ten, they will conduct their testing through a third-party testing laboratory. In addition, these procedures will be the minimum for schools to do, meaning they can expand their testing if necessary. 

“Our institutions are committed to taking the necessary measures to facilitate a safe return to campus for our students this fall,” Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president said in a press release. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have prioritized the health and safety of our students. Their welfare is paramount and remains at the forefront of all of our decisions. Today’s announcement, though subject to local, state and federal public health guidelines, provides a path forward for Big Ten student-athletes to return to competition based on comprehensive, conference-wide medical policies and protocols established by the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee. We will continue to evaluate the best available information and advice from public health officials as we make decisions and necessary adjustments going forward.”

In a press release, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren made it clear that any student-athlete who still did not feel comfortable would be able to opt-out and retain their scholarship.

“At the same time, as we have previously communicated, any student-athletes who do not feel safe proceeding with the upcoming season as a result of the COVID-19 virus should know they have our full support and also know they will retain their scholarships,” Warren said in a press release. “With the knowledge we have today, providing potential options for all of our student-athletes was of the utmost importance to us, all while ensuring there is a process in place to incorporate student-athlete feedback. While a comprehensive plan has been developed, we also know it is essential to continue to be agile as new information and health trends become available and we will adjust accordingly.”

As for Michigan State football, they will open against Minnesota on Sept. 5 at Spartan Stadium. Their schedule has remained similar to the Big Ten teams they were set to face prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, except the Spartans will now take on their in-state rival Michigan in Ann Arbor instead of in East Lansing as it was planned before, and Nebraska will now be their final game of the 2020 season should it be played.

Michigan State football was scheduled to end a 14-day quarantine Aug. 4, but it is unclear if that has indeed happened after seven more positive tests were announced Monday.

In an interview with the Big Ten Network, Warren reiterated what he has been saying for the last month, that there is no certainty for fall sports in the middle of a pandemic.

“There’s no guarantee that we will have fall sports or football season,” Warren said in an interview with the Big Ten Network. “We’re doing everything we possibly can if we’re so blessed to be able to have fall sports, that things are organized and done in a very methodical and professional matter.”

Time will tell if the Big Ten will be able to hold fall sports in the midst of a pandemic.

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