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Big Ten Postpones Fall Sports

Update, 3 p.m.: The Big Ten has postponed all fall sports, including regular-season contests and championships, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference announced Tuesday afternoon. It’s now the first Power Five conference to shutter the season.

The conference’s ruling affects football, women’s volleyball, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross country. The Big Ten hasn’t provided any additional updates on winter sports, such as basketball or hockey.

“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 Big Ten said it’s evaluating “a number of options” for fall sports, including potentially competing in the spring.

On a conference call last week, Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour estimated the university could lose “up to nine figures” if fall sports fell through. Athletics has already implemented department-wide pay cuts to address expected revenue shortfalls, while Barbour herself has taken a 15% pay cut.

Original Story: Are…you…ready…for Penn State football? You may be in tough luck.

The Big Ten’s presidents have reportedly voted to postpone the fall college football season, according to The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman. The conference reportedly hopes to move the season to the spring should the pandemic improve enough to play safely.

The conference is expected to formally announce the cancellation at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the conference’s presidents reportedly voted 12-2 to shutter the football season. Iowa and Nebraska were purportedly the lone universities still pushing to play.

The Big Ten follows a number of Division I conferences and schools, including the FBS’ Mid-American Conference, the Ivy League, and lone wolf husky UConn, in canceling fall football. However, it’s the first Power Five conference to bite the bullet and make the call.

Penn State football head coach James Franklin previously called on the Big Ten to delay its reported decision to cancel the season and “seek clarity” before closing things down. Both he and a number of his student-athletes tweeted in support of playing this fall.

The Big Ten had previously adopted conference-only schedules for all sports to give it more freedom to move schedules around and adapt to the pandemic’s challenges. Those schedules, which had Penn State opening the season against Northwestern on September 5, were released last Wednesday.

Weeks ago, Penn State President Eric Barron said he was concerned bringing fans to Beaver Stadium could create a “super-spreader” event. This week, however, Penn State Athletics confirmed it won’t bring fans to fall sporting events due to the state’s 250-person capacity cap for outdoor events.

Last week, more than 1,000 Big Ten football players collectively issued a list of demands to be met in order to safely play this fall. They included more transparent coronavirus testing policies, granting automatic medical redshirts to student-athletes who miss games for any coronavirus-related reason, and providing additional financial support to those in need. It’s unclear if the requests impacted the Big Ten’s decision.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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