As had been rumored since Monday, the Big Ten announced on Tuesday afternoon that they will not hold sports in the fall. As of now they plan to push back football season and other fall sports until the spring of 2021. The Pac-12 followed suit with a similar announcement at a 4:30pm EST press conferences.
“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,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “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.”
Some institutions were disappointed with the Big Ten’s decision, and had pushed for fall sports to go on as planned, or at the very least to be pushed back to a slightly later start. Nebraska and Ohio State both drafted responses to the announcement from the Big Ten. Nebraska has gone so far as to declare that they are open to other opportunities outside the Big Ten.
A statement from Nebraska leadership. pic.twitter.com/tFMlYSfnWe
— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) August 11, 2020
The cancellation of fall sports by two of the Power 5 conferences certainly shifts the momentum towards there being no fall sports at all in 2020. As of now, the ACC and the SEC remain dedicated to playing, while the Big 12 appears to be on the fence. If the Big 12 goes the way of the Big Ten and Pac-12, it is thought that it would be very difficult for the ACC and the SEC to continue on with plans to play in the fall.
Sources also tell @ByPatForde and I that ACC presidents have been in constant communication with counterparts in the Big 12 to gauge their plans.
If the Big 12 were to join the Pac-12 and Big Ten in canceling a 2020 fall season, the ACC would feel compelled to do the same.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 11, 2020
As of the time of this writing, there have been no public comments by the ACC, SEC or Big 12 about the announcements by the Big Ten and Pac-12, but an ACC source had this to say to national college football writer Pete Thamel…
“We’re further away from pulling out now than we were a few days ago. I think we’re more steady in the boat in sticking with our plan. Given the conditions of COVID, we know that can change quickly. The whole purpose of delaying the season was to navigate the return of students. We deserve the opportunity to get to that hurdle and re-assess once that happens.”
The ACC is moving behind the advice of its medical advisory team, which is chaired by Duke’s Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist. As of now, Dr. Wolfe believes that schools should be able to play sports in the fall, providing the proper precautions are taken.
“We believe we can mitigate it down to a level that makes everyone safe,” Wolfe told the Sports Business Daily. “Can we safely have two teams meet on the field? I would say yes. Will it be tough? Yes. Will it be expensive and hard and lots of work? For sure. But I do believe you can sufficiently mitigate the risk of bringing COVID onto the football field or into the training room at a level that’s no different than living as a student on campus.”
You can read the entire article about Wolfe’s comments here, and it gives a good idea about the advice ACC Commissioner John Swofford and the school presidents are getting from their medical team.
We’ll have more on this situation as it develops.