LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Big Ten Conference became the first Power 5 conference to postpone its fall football season out of COVID-19 concerns, the league announced Tuesday.
The move, which began to be rumored over the weekend, sent shock waves through a sports world that had long hoped to return to some semblance of normalcy after a dormant summer. Instead, concerns over long-term player health halted the Big Ten’s fall season just a week after it had announced a 2020 schedule that did not postpone the start of the season at all.
“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president, said in a statement.
The postponement includes all fall sports: men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. No decision has yet been made on winter sports, like men’s and women’s basketball. The league hopes to attempt to play a football season in the spring.
“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 in a statement. “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."
ESPN reported Monday that league officials became more concerned after a handful of players showed signs of myocarditis after contracting COVID-19. The condition, an inflammation of the heart muscle often accompanied by virus infection, could have portended a longer recovery time for players, and could leave them with long-term damage as yet undetected.
Two group of 5 conferences, the Mid-American and the Mountain West, had already canceled their fall seasons. Whether the Big Ten’s decision will impact other Power 5 leagues is unclear.
On Monday, Louisville football head coach Scott Satterfield said administrators at his school indicated that the Atlantic Coast Conference was planning to move forward, regardless of what other conferences decide.
Officials from the Southeastern Conference were in discussions Tuesday.
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