Big Ten postpones fall sports season

Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — The Big Ten Conference announced Tuesday it has postponed its fall sports season with hopes of resuming play in the spring.

The decision is based on the ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sports impacted by the announcement include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. The Big Ten will continue to evaluate options regarding these sports, the conference said in a statement.

The conference also says decisions on winter and spring sports will continue to be evaluated.

With the announcement, the Big Ten became the first of college sports’ power conferences to back down to the pandemic. Many student-athletes, coaches and politicians have been vocal about their desire for fall sports to be played, with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay trending on Twitter in recent days.

Roughly an hour after the Big Ten’s announcement, the Pac-12 Conference announced that all sport competitions are postponed through the end of the 2020 calendar year, including basketball.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president.
 
“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,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “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.
 
“We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in shaping the future of the talented young women and men who compete in the Big Ten Conference. Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult. While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point. Everyone associated with the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions is committed to getting everyone back to competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Indiana University Athletics Director Scott Dolson released the following statement:

“I am heartbroken by today’s news of the postponement of the Big Ten fall sports schedule. As a lifelong Hoosier and IU sports fan I am disappointed that we won’t be able to enjoy seeing our teams compete, but I am most devastated for our students. They invest an enormous amount of time, effort, and energy for the opportunity to represent IU on the field. But as difficult as it is to absorb, I am confident it is the right decision. Throughout this process, the Big Ten Conference has made the health and safety of our students, staffs, and communities the No. 1 concern and priority. Today, our medical experts believe it is not currently safe to take the next step to participating in intercollegiate competitions. I continue to appreciate Commissioner Kevin Warren for his leadership and guidance through these unprecedented times. We will continue to focus on the development of our students academically, athletically, and personally as we move forward.”

IU Athletics says they will be in contact with ticket holders and Hoosier fans with more information as it becomes available in the coming days.

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