According to a report from Yahoo's Pete Thamel, as well as corroboration from The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach, the Big Ten has decided to move forward with a football season that will kick off next month.
On Wednesday morning, the waiting finally ended. Sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports that the Big Ten will return to play in the fall of 2020. The league is expected to start the season on Oct. 24, which is scheduled to allow for both a conference title game and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.
The major shift that swayed the conference's decision on playing a fall season was the availability of rapid testing. Or that's going to be the PR pitch, at least.
What changed in less than five weeks? A confluence of medical advancements, fan blowback, political pressure and the successful start of the college football season elsewhere – especially in leagues like the ACC – all contributed to the league reversing course. Sources said that the presence of daily rapid testing, which has led to a successful start in the NFL, will be used in the Big Ten and will be a key part of the league’s messaging why it’s moving forward.
We'll have much more on this whenever there's an official announcement and accompanying schedule. There'll be time for an eight-game conference-only season and Big Ten title game with that start date if there are no weeks off—fingers crossed that this goes smoothly!—in order to get the season played before the college football playoff field is chosen.
IMMEDIATE UPDATE: IT'S OFFICIAL, THINGS ARE MOVING FAST AROUND HERE.
The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) adopted significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition. The COP/C voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020. The decision was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the COP/C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.
The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.
There are many more details in the full press release. Buried at the end is a promising note about the rest of the sporting slate:
Eventually all Big Ten sports will require testing protocols before they can resume competition. Updates regarding fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports that begin in the fall including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling, will be announced shortly.
Here we go.
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