After a meeting of Big Ten presidents this morning, the conference has decided to put a pause on fall football camp, keeping teams in the acclimatization phase and preventing them from moving onto padded practices. They released the following statement:
The Big Ten Conference announced today, based on the advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, that, until further notice, all institutions will remain in the first two days of the acclimatization period in football (i.e., helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear) as we continue to transition prudently through preseason practice. All other fall sports will continue to work locally with team physicians and athletic trainers to adjust practices to the appropriate level of activity, as necessary, based on current medical protocols.
Each new phase of activity provides new intelligence and experience and allows us to evaluate the implementation of our Conference and institutional medical protocols in real-time. In order to make the right health and safety decisions for our student-athletes, we believe it is best to continue in the appropriate phase of activity referenced above while we digest and share information from each campus to ensure we are moving forward cautiously.
We understand there are many questions regarding how this impacts schedules, as well as the feasibility of proceeding forward with the season at all. As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes.
A pause on fall camp threatens the September 3-5 start to conference play which was announced earlier this week. The conference, which has been trying to handle the logistics of having a fall season for months is now also being pushed by players from around the conference who want to ensure that their safety is being put first and foremost in any negotiations.
Little by little throughout the late spring and summer, a push to move the 2020 season to the spring of 2021 has gained momentum as the coronavirus has not been able to be contained across the United States. In addition to the fall camp pause, two other data points emerged Saturday morning which make it look more and more like a reality.
First, the Group of 5's Mid-American Conference and its presidents decided to move their fall sports to spring, citing the health and safety of the conference's football players as well as the financial hit that schools were being forced to take due to conference-only schedules adopted by most of the Power 5. Sources say that the president of Northern Illinois, an infectious disease expert, was ready to pull his school from fall competition, leading the rest of the conference to follow the lead of one of the more successful football programs in the conference.
Secondly, the Detroit Free-Press reported on Saturday afternoon that Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren is preferable to a spring football season at this point. Warren, in his first year at the helm of the conference, was the first to announce that his conference would go to a conference-only schedule, which led to the rest of the Power 5 conferences paring down to similar schedules. If the move to a spring season for all of college football were to become a reality, it would be likely that the Big Ten would be the ones to lead as well. The Big Ten presidents are expected to continue conversations today in their meeting.
A fall season is beginning to look less and less likely. Stay tuned to Roar Lions Roar for all the updates as they happen.