It appeared that the Big Ten Conference would not be playing football until the spring of 2021, but now they have decided to begin the season in late October.
The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24. The decision was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the COP/C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a “collaborative and transparent process.”
The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers, and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily coronavirus testing.
Indiana University and Purdue University are in the Big Ten Conference.
“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee. “The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”
Each school will designate a Chief Infection Officer who will oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten Conference.
In addition to the medical protocols approved, the 14 Big Ten schools will establish a cardiac registry to examine the effects on student-athletes who test positive for coronavirus.
“Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. Our goal has always been to return to the competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force has accomplished to ensure the health, safety, and wellness of student-athletes, coaches, and administrators.”
Leaders from IU athletics issued statements about the conference’s decision:
IU VICE PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS SCOTT DOLSON STATEMENT
“From the outset, we have relied on and followed the guidance of our expert medical professionals in determining when it was safe to resume football competitions. I am very confident in their recommendations and appreciate their dedication to keeping our students, coaches, fans and communities safe. I also want to thank President McRobbie, who has provided tremendous leadership and has been a great support throughout this process. Finally, I am thrilled for Coach Allen and our student-athletes, who have shown tremendous resiliency and focus. This is an exciting day.”
IU HEAD FOOTBALL COACH TOM ALLEN STATEMENT
“We are beyond excited to get back on the football field. Our players have kept their focus and attacked workouts waiting for this day. Thank you to President McRobbie, Scott Dolson and our medical staff for their relentless efforts to make it safe for all of us to return. I also want to thank Aaron Wellman and his staff for keeping our team sharp and our coaching staff for all of their tireless work. We look forward to the 2020 Big Ten football season!”