Big Ten announces conference-only competition plan for fall sports

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INDIANAPOLIS – If college athletics programs are in fact able to compete this fall, the Big Ten will do so in a conference-only format.

“By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions,” the league released in a statement, “the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”

The decision will have a wide-ranging impact across the college sports landscape. In football in particular, Notre Dame will lose its game against Wisconsin, projected to be one of the toughest on the Irish’s slate, so their strength of schedule takes a significant hit. Smaller programs like Ball State will lose games at Michigan and at Indiana, games they would have been paid to play.

“In addition,” the Big Ten statement continues, “the Conference announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently permitted to engage in such activities. Furthermore, Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.”

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