The Big Ten Conference postponed its 2020-2021 fall sports season Tuesday due to the pandemic.
All regular-season games, championships, and tournaments are on hold. The decision affects not only football but also women’s volleyball, field hockey, and men’s and women’s soccer and cross country.
“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,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren 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.”
The announcement comes a week after the Mid-American Conference canceled its fall football season. It was the first Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I) to do so.
Warren added that the Big Ten would “continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring.” But whether spring competition would be feasible is an open question. It is particularly problematic for football, when the top players in the Big Ten will be considering entering the NFL draft.
The postponement comes despite pleas from many players and four Big Ten football coaches—Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, and Nebraska’s Scott Frost—to only delay the season.