Big Ten nixes fall college football season, eyes spring

ESPN — Big Ten Conference presidents and chancellors voted Tuesday to postpone all fall sports seasons, including football, with the hopes of playing in the spring, it announced Tuesday.

“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.

“We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in shaping the future of the talented young women and men who compete in the Big Ten Conference. Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult. While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point. Everyone associated with the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions is committed to getting everyone back to competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

On Sunday, ESPN first reported that Big Ten presidents, following a meeting on Saturday, were ready to cancel the fall sports season, and they wanted to gauge whether commissioners and university presidents and chancellors from the other Power Five conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — would fall in line with them.

Pac-12 presidents and chancellors were meeting on Tuesday and also were expected to vote on whether to proceed with a fall schedule or punt to the spring.

Sources told ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura on Monday night that the growing sense around the conference is that it is highly unlikely the Pac-12 will move forward with a fall season amid concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic and will look to playing in the spring, if possible.

Officials with the ACC and SEC have indicated they plan to proceed with seasons this fall, but it’s unclear whether the Big Ten’s decision will change those plans.

In making its decision, the Big Ten said it relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” Morton Schapiro, the Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president, said in a statement.

Besides football, others sports impacted are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.

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