There will be no Big Ten football in 2020.
The conference released the following statement Tuesday afternoon, confirming that all fall sports for 2020-21 have been, at the very least, pushed back to the spring:
The Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments, due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In making its decision, which was based on multiple factors, the Big Ten Conference 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,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.
“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.
“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.”
The fall sports included in this announcement are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. The Big Ten Conference will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring. Decisions regarding winter and spring sports will also continue to be evaluated.
The situation now appears to be fairly straightforward: The Pac-12 will almost certainly follow suit (perhaps today), while the ACC and the SEC will remain committed to trying to make football in the fall happen. If they can convince the Big 12 to remain on that path as well, there’s at least a chance of a bizarro 2020 college football season.
Regardless of what happens with football, this week’s events should be presenting a pretty clear message to those responsible for making sure college basketball and the other winter sports are able to take place in some form this academic year: Get your shit together now. You’ve got about two months to put together some sort of working plan.
It’s hard to be overly optimistic about that coming to fruition at this point.
UPDATE: The Pac-12 has now followed suit and canceled all fall sports for 2020. It says no sports, including basketball, will begin play before Jan. 1. That means no non-conference hoops for the league in 2020-21.
UPDATE II: The ACC has released a statement that says slightly more than nothing:
The SEC released a similarly-worded statement just minutes later.
It’s still all eyes on the Big 12.
UPDATE III: The Big 12 appears to be in.
Multiple sources have confirmed the Big 12 is moving forward with the season.— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) August 12, 2020