Big Ten Confirms Presidents Voted 11-3 To Postpone Football, Fall Sports
The Big Ten officially voted 11-3 to postpone fall sports, including football, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference said Monday.
In a written statement, the Big Ten confirmed its presidents and chancellors’ decision exceed the 60% threshold required to do so by the conference’s by-laws. The Big Ten said its leaders voted in favor of postponing the impending fall sports seasons due to medical concerns surrounding the pandemic.
According to The Athletic, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio State dissented.
Penn State President Eric Barron and Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour both previously said they supported the decision to postpone fall sports amid the pandemic.
However, Barbour noted the decision will be especially damaging to her department. She estimated Athletics could lose an estimated $100 million in revenue without fall sports, prompting Penn State to implement department-wide pay cuts and potentially furlough employees.
Conference sources told The Athletic a number of factors, including reported shortcomings in schools’ abilities to follow protocols and guidelines, such as contact tracking and testing, played a factor in the vote to postpone sports.
Additionally, a three-month study conducted by an Ohio State doctor found approximately 15% of student-athletes who tested positive for the coronavirus, most of whom experienced few or no symptoms, contracted myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart. The findings were shared with both the Big Ten and the Pac-12, which also voted to postpone, before the decisions were made. The study is currently awaiting peer review.
Earlier this month, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren published a statement doubling-down on the conference’s postponement of fall sports. He said the conversation “will not be revisited.”
“The decision was thorough and deliberative, and based on sound feedback, guidance and advice from medical experts,” Warren wrote in his statement. “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.”
He cited virus transmissions rates continuing at an “alarming rate,” uncertainty surrounding long-term effects, and concerns involving contact tracing and social distancing as additional factors behind the postponement.
Last week, eight Nebraska football players filed a lawsuit against the Big Ten over the vote to postpone fall sports. The Big Ten responded to the suit Monday and rejected the players’ claims, noting it voted to postpone in accordance with the conference’s by-laws and based upon medical advice and counsel.
“The facts are clear that there was indeed a vote that far exceeded the 60% threshold, and the decision by the [Council of Presidents and Chancellors] was based on the input of several medical and infectious disease experts in the best interest of the health and wellness of student-athletes and the surrounding communities among the 14 member institutions,” the conference wrote. “The Big Ten asks that the motion be denied.”
The Big Ten added it shares disappointment with students and their families and will continue being transparent as it plans to return to competition when it’s deemed safe.
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