Big Ten Conference postpones fall sports, including football; hopes to resume play in spring

Big Ten Conference postpones fall sports, including football; hopes to resume play in spring
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes rushes for a first down during overtime of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) (Jamie Sabau)

The Big Ten Conference has made the official announcement that all 2020 fall sports, including football, have been postponed, citing ongoing health and safety concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement issued by the conference Tuesday afternoon.

After over 24 hours of uncertainty, the conference issued the statement just after 3 p.m. Tuesday, announcing the decision. A Big Ten spokesperson said the decision was made using medical advice and counsel from the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.

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In addition to football, men’s and women’s cross county, field hockey, men and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball will have their seasons postponed. A conference spokesperson said officials are looking at options to resume play, including playing fall sports competitions in the spring. Decisions about winter and spring sports have not been made and are still being evaluated, the conference spokesperson said.

“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,” conference commissioner Kevin Warren said in the statement.

“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,” Warren said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was asked during his Tuesday briefing on the state’s coronavirus response, saying as a fan the news is disappointing, but respects the decision.

“Ultimately this is a decision that has to be made by the schools. I think it’s a disappointment for Buckeye Nation, but more importantly it’s a disappointment for the young men that play football,” DeWine said.

“As a fan I’m disappointed. (But) We have to respect that decision.”

In a statement issued on the Ohio State athletics website, Athletic Director Gene Smith said he and university President-elect Kristina Johnson were in favor of delaying the start of fall sports, rather than postponing them all together.

“President-elect Johnson and I were totally aligned in our efforts to delay the start of the season rather than postpone. I am so grateful to her for all her efforts in support of our student-athletes and a traditional fall season,” Smith said in the university’s statement.

“This is an incredibly sad day for our student-athletes, who have worked so hard and been so vigilant fighting against this pandemic to get this close to their season. My heart aches for them and their families,” Smith said.