The Big Ten conference decided there will be football this fall, a reversal that came slightly more than a month after they chose to postpone the season.
The conference and university leaders announced on Wednesday, following a unanimous vote, that the delayed season will kick off the weekend of Oct. 23-24, and the season’s start date allows for teams in the conference to be eligible for the College Football Playoff.
“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,” Jim Borchers, the head team physician at the Ohio State University and co-chairman of the conference’s Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee, said in a press release. “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 coach, player, and trainer who will be on the field for all practices and games will have to undergo daily antigen testing. Any player who tests positive for COVID-19 will undergo “comprehensive cardiac testing,” and the earliest they could return to the field would be 21 days later. The universities also plan on creating a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the effects of COVID-19 on athletes.
The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors met on Sunday and they had been finalizing the conference’s plans before they made the decision public. The same group voted to cancel the season, and all fall sports, in August with an 11-3 vote and the rules in place said a vote would require at least 60%, or nine votes, to overturn the original decision, according to ESPN. University of Nebraska president Ted Carter appeared to break the news of the impending season when he was caught on a hot mic Tuesday morning.
“We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight,” Carter said to Bob Hinson, the director of the National Strategic Research Institute.
The Big Ten was not the only NCAA conference to cancel their season. The Mid-America Conference (MAC), Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences all followed in the Big Ten’s decision to cancel their season. Other conferences, including the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12 and Southeastern Conference (SEC), decided to play.