College football was sent reeling Tuesday as the Big Ten was the first of the Power Five conferences to postpone the 2020 season with hopes of being able to return to the field in the spring.
The postponement left several Spartans itching for the season, while some had already opted out due to concerns regarding COVID-19.
Throughout the entire pandemic, first-year head football coach Mel Tucker has emphasized the importance of putting health first and trusting the experts. Tucker has said multiple times that when the time is right, the Spartans will hit the ground running. He reiterated those words in light of the postponement.
“From the beginning of this public health crisis there have been many unknowns for college football, thus it was important for me to listen and follow our medical staff and medical experts’ protocols for our workouts, practices and playing,” Tucker said in his statement. “The uncertainties caused by COVID-19 have created enormous stress for our players and their families and I am proud of their resilience. Our coaches and staff will continue to support their drive, dreams and decisions. While the conclusion to postpone the season is not easy for anyone, based on the medical recommendations, I respect the decision of the Big Ten Conference. When the medical experts tell us that we can get back to business, we’ll be ready. Until then, stay safe and Go Green.”
Athletic Director Bill Beekman echoed Tucker, as well as acknowledging the work that has been put in by the athletes and the heartbreak that they, as well as the fans, are feeling right now.
“The decision to postpone the fall season is heartbreaking," Beekman said. "Our student-athletes have put in tireless hours of hard work to earn their scholarships and their places on our teams. They are what inspire every one of us who work in intercollegiate athletics. We understand that today’s news will be devastating for many of them. As an athletic department our goal is to provide opportunities for student-athletes both academically, athletically and socially. Sadly, the time has come where we must postpone those athletic opportunities, at least for the fall.”
Beekman also praised the medical team and training staff that allowed the Spartans to return to the field temporarily.
“We appreciate the hard work put in by the university medical team and athletic training staff over the last few months,” Beekman said. “They’ve worked without ceasing to develop and implement a Return to Campus plan that provided an opportunity to play sports, but with never losing focus on our first priority: the health and safety of our student-athletes. The care of our student-athletes since their arrival has been exceptional.”
The reactions of Spartan players have been split.
Freshman defensive back Darius Snow, who was an early-enrollee for the Spartans, retweeted ESPN's initial announcement of the Big Ten's postponement with a solemn tone.
Redshirt-sophomore linebacker Jeslord Boateng tweeted about the season prior to the Big Ten's announcement skeptical of the season and the players' safety.
"I don’t know why college coaches are saying their players are safer on campus as if they didn’t come on campus and contract the virus," Boateng said. "Make it make sense."
Other Spartans retweeted Boateng's statement including redshirt-sophomore safety Michael Dowell and redshirt-freshman linebacker Marcel Lewis.
Running back Connor Heyward has been vocal about the situation on Twitter, saying if there is a season he is going to play, while also telling other athletes to know what they are getting themselves into.
Many Spartans have yet to make a statement on the matter, but with their timelines filled with photos from training, one can assume they were ready for the season to get underway.
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