The Big 10 and Pac-12 will not play college football in 2020 because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The Big 10 was the first Power 5 conference to make the announcement on Tuesday, and the Pac-12 followed suit soon after. The plans for the other power conferences – the SEC, ACC and Big 12 – are uncertain.
“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 in a statement.
“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, which revealed a conference-only schedule last Wednesday after announcing in July it would play only league games, said it is keeping the door open for possibly playing football in the spring.
The Pac-12 is also looking at the possibility of playing spring football, along with the Mid-American Conference and Mountain West. The MAC cancelled its season on Saturday and the Mountain West scrapped its on Monday.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said: “The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis.
“Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.
“Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble. Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and when conditions change we will be ready to explore all options to play the impacted sports in the new calendar year.”
Despite an inability to successfully curb the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, not all Big Ten universities were thrilled with the decision.
”We are very disappointed in the decision by the Big Ten Conference to postpone the fall football season, as we have been and continue to be ready to play,” University of Nebraska leadership said in a statement.
While many programs have instilled strict guidelines to protect their football players, there are still significant risks involved with playing a contact sport. There are also many unknowns about the long-term effects for someone that contracts coronavirus.
With so many concerns, a couple of potential top 10 picks for the 2021 NFL Draft announced last week they were opting out of the 2020 season, in Penn State All-American linebacker Micah Parsons and Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau.
If football is played in the new year, it is uncertain if more likely picks will opt out with the draft right around the corner.
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