There will be a Big Ten football season in 2020, after all.
After announcing it would not play fall sports in August, the conference reversed course on Wednesday, saying that football games would begin the weekend of October 24. At least 60 percent of the league administrators would have needed to vote in favor of reinstating the season, according to ESPN. That means nine out of the 14 school chancellors and presidents, who met over the weekend. The original vote in favor of postponing fall sports came down 11-3 in favor of shelving play, with only Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa voting in favor of continuing the season.
Nebraska was particularly vocal about its disagreement with calling the season off, issuing a statement in August blasting the vote, and floating the concept of participating in a different conference that would allow it to participate in 2020 if the Big Ten wouldn’t reverse course.
With action resuming on fields across the country this past weekend between the NFL and college football conferences like the SEC, ACC, and Big 12, Big Ten officials were meeting to reassess their decision to cancel.
The league’s entire council of presidents and chancellors met for several hours Sunday afternoon with members of the return-to-competition task force, which plans for scheduling and television. The Big Ten medical subcommittee reviewed the latest medical information about a safe resumption of play during the coronavirus pandemic, and the task force also met Saturday with eight presidents or chancellors, including Nebraska chancellor Ronnie Green.
After rumors swirled that a decision had been made to come back early this week, the official announcement was made Wednesday morning.
“The Big Ten is back!”
It’s official, and things officially kick off Oct. 23-24. pic.twitter.com/vXt8JtOp6H
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 16, 2020
The vote to return to play was unanimous according to a release posted Monday morning by the Big Ten. It was arrived at after the adoption of recommendations by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, including daily antigen testing for the coronavirus for all on-field personnel and players. Each institution must designate a Chief Infection Officer to oversee its testing and data programs to help insure rapid action against potential COVID outbreaks among program participants.
“From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students. The new medical protocols and standards put into place by the Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force were pivotal in the decision to move forward with sports in the conference,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President, and Chair of the Return to Competition Task Force Steering Committee. “We appreciate the conference’s dedication to developing the necessary safety procedures for our students and the communities that embrace them.”
The testing program will begin on September 30. 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, per the league.
The schedule for the upcoming season beyond its start date has not yet been revealed, nor has any plans regarding whether or not any fans will be allowed at Big Ten stadiums.