After much speculation, the Big Ten Conference has announced its upcoming fall sports season, including football, has been postponed.
Today’s announcement also means there will be no regular season or conference championships and tournaments.
According to this afternoon’s release, which can be seen on the conference’s website, the league came to a decision to postpone the fall sports season through the advice they received from both 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,” said Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, who chairs the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors.
Added Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, “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.”
While today’s news certainly derails hopes of seeing the conference’s 14 teams play football this year, it also means there will be no cross-country, field hockey, soccer, or volleyball.
As noted at the end of today’s announcement, “The Big Ten Conference will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring.”
No decisions have been made about winter or spring sports.
The University of Massachusetts joined a growing list of FBS teams that will not play football this season.
As noted in a statement from Ryan Bamford, who is the school’s athletic director, “After consulting with the university, state, and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season.”
Bamford stressed that the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic “posed too great of a risk” for not just the student-athletes, but everyone involved with the Minuteman’s program.
Second-year coach Walt Bell admitted he was “absolutely heartbroken” for both the current and past members of the program, along with the alumni and fanbase, too, but was extremely appreciative of everyone that helped keep everyone safe once the team arrived at campus earlier this summer.
“I would like to give an unbelievable amount of gratitude to our medical professionals, our administration, our campus, our athletic training staff, and our operations staff for creating one of the safest environments in college football,” said Bell. “The testing, the protocols, the risk mitigation, and the execution have been incredible.”
While it is uncertain if and when things with the ongoing coronavirus will settle down, Bamford did provide the program, along with all fall sports teams with some hope to play games next spring.
“We remain hopeful and fully intended to conduct a competitive schedule for our fall sports in the 2021 spring semester,” said Bamford.
Last night – Sunday, August 9, to be exact – we learned the Big Ten conference, which met twice this weekend, is leaning toward canceling its football season. And if football is canceled, it is likely both the presidents and chancellors of each institution would pull the plug on other fall sports, too.
An announcement from the Big Ten is expected if not today definitely this week, and pending the league’s final decision on the 2020 fall sports season, it is possible other Power 5 conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) could cancel their respective fall sports seasons or perhaps make tweaks to their newly updated schedules.
While nothing official has been announced by the Big Ten or any Power 5 conference as of this morning, Bob Bowlsby, who is the commissioner of the Big 12, did provide some insight into what leagues might take into consideration when deciding to cancel games this fall: players enduring longlasting cardiac issues from contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) that may prohibit them from future competition.
As noted in a recent story from Sports Illustrated, team doctors and physicians are worried that youth athletes, who are healthy and may be asymptomatic, could develop life-long heart problems, including myocardial, which causes damage to the heart muscle. It appears this issue is just one of many both presidents and chancellors are grappling with when it comes to making a decision on the 2020 fall sports season.
Here in New England, it appears as if both Boston College and the University of Massachusetts will play football this fall, but it is not a given that either program will play or perhaps complete its entire schedule. It is possible, pending future announcements from the Big Ten and other leagues, that both seasons could be canceled or punted to next spring.
Merrimack College, which competes in the Northeastern Conference (NEC), will have to wait and see if their football team will be allowed to play games this fall. According to last month’s update, the NEC President’s council will reconvene on Thursday, October 1 to assess the ongoing pandemic and see if it’s possible to provide not just the Warriors, but every team in the conference with some form of competition.
Other New England schools, including those that compete at both the Division II and III levels, will not be competing this fall, despite some athletic departments still not announcing that fall sports are canceled. But it is likely those announcements could come if not this week later this month once students return to campus.
At the end of the day, these are not easy decisions, so fans and football fanatics need to respect whatever is announced either today or over the next few days. Yes, no college football in the fall would seem strange, but if these decisions result in keeping the student-athletes safe, along with everyone else involved with college athletics safe and healthy, then we should applaud both the presidents and chancellors for making the right call.
Friday’s highly anticipated meeting between the NCAA Board of Governors ended without a bang.
As of now – today, Saturday, July 25, 2020, to be exact – it appears as if the fall sports championships are still going to happen, but perhaps that decision could change in a few weeks when the board reconvenes for its next meeting on Tuesday, August 4. The NCAA – as many remember – did cancel winter and spring championships in March when states began implementing stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Friday’s decision does provide hope for those seeking to see some college football games played this year. But as many know, many programs and campuses across the country have had to pause workouts due to an uptick in coronavirus cases.
NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement to the media following yesterday’s meeting, acknowledging that the “health and well-being of college athletes is the highest priority in deciding whether to proceed with our 22 NCAA championships beginning in late November.”
Last month, Mark Emmert expressed concern about the upcoming college sports season on a podcast, but did note the 2020-21 school year is “going to be different.”
Is it time to pull the plug on college football, as well as all fall sports? (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
By Matt Noonan
It’s time to pull the plug on the upcoming college football season. It is also time to call off any and all fall sports, including field hockey, soccer, and volleyball contests.
Canceling sporting events is no easy task. These are hard decisions, but we have to respect the conferences and schools that have already elected to forgo the upcoming fall sports season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic so they can keep not just their student-athletes safe and healthy, but also their coaches, fans, and team representatives.
Playing football or any sport during a pandemic just doesn’t seem feasible at a time when various states across the country are experiencing an uptick in cases.
Sure, some may think conferences like the Ivy League or New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) should have waited an extra week or two, but remember, they were the ones leading the way back in March when everyone was ordered to shelter in place.
If Sankey is concerned about the upcoming college football season, then you should be, too. And if there is no SEC football this fall, then expect no other league to play, as well.
More decisions are coming. And again, we need to be respectful to whatever these colleges and conferences decide to do. But with so much uncertainty heading into the upcoming school year, it just seems unlikely that any of us will see a college sporting event take place either here in Massachusetts or around the country until next January. And that is fine with me.