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Big Ten Commissioner Confirms Presidents Voted To Postpone Fall Sports

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren set the record straight Wednesday afternoon when he confirmed the conference’s presidents and chancellors took an official vote to postpone fall sports.

Through a letter to the “Big Ten Community,” Warren said the conference’s leadership was “overwhelmingly in support” of postponing fall sports and stated the topic won’t be revisited.

“The decision was thorough and deliberative, and based on sound feedback, guidance and advice from medical experts,” Warren said. “Despite the decision to postpone fall sports, we continue our work to find a path forward that creates a healthy and safe environment for all Big Ten student-athletes to compete in the sports they love in a manner that helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protects both student-athletes and the surrounding communities.”

Warren also listed some “primary factors” that led to the Big Ten’s decision, which included:

  • Transmission rates continuing at an “alarming rate” with little indication from medical experts that Big Ten campuses or their community could gain control of the virus’ spread before sports began
  • Uncertainty surrounding the virus, patients’ recovery, and long-term effects, potentially including heart conditions
  • Concerns surrounding contact-tracing, the inability to socially distance while playing sports, and mitigating risks

The commissioner made it clear that financial considerations didn’t influence the conference’s decision to postpone fall sports. However, the decision will certainly affect each university significantly. Penn State, for example, estimated it could lose up to $100 million and will implement furloughs and pay cuts to address expected revenue shortfalls.

“We understand the passion of the many student-athletes and their families who were disappointed by the decision, but also know there are many who have a great deal of concern and anxiety regarding the pandemic,” Warren wrote.

Moving forward, the Big Ten will continue planning for the future of fall sports and potentially winter and spring sports. The conference has assembled a Return to Competition Task Force that consists of university leadership, athletic directors, head coaches, medical personnel, and more. The task force will explore “many factors” surrounding resuming fall sports and prioritize student-athletes’ health above all else. The group will also collect feedback from athletes, their families, and other constituents when planning ahead.

“We have tremendous appreciation and understanding regarding what participation in sports means to our student-athletes, their families, our campus communities and our fans,” Warren said. “We will continue to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes. We appreciate the passion of the Big Ten community and will harness that energy towards providing the best possible experience for all Big Ten student-athletes.”

During a press conference Monday, Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour said she didn’t know if the conference actually voted to postpone fall sports. Football coach James Franklin echoed those sentiments Wednesday and said both he and his players deserved more transparency surrounding the postponement.

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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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