The Big Ten Conference announced yesterday the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season, which included all regular-season contests, Big Ten Championships and Tournaments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to a statement made by the conference yesterday afternoon, the Big Ten Conference relied on medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren also noted that the mental and physical health and welfare of the student-athletes is at the center of every decision made regarding the ability to proceed forward.

“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,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “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.

 

“We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in shaping the future of the talented young women and men who compete in the Big Ten Conference. Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult. While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point. Everyone associated with the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions is committed to getting everyone back to competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The fall sports included are football, men's and woman's soccer, women's volleyball, men's and women's cross country, and field hockey.

The Big Ten Conference said it will continue to evaluate options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring.

The University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel and Director of Athletics Mark Coyle released a joint statement after the Big Ten Conference made its announcement.

"The Big Ten Conference and its member institutions have thoughtfully considered the latest public health data and advice of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee throughout discussions about student-athlete safety and the viability of the conference’s fall sports seasons. As of today, the medical evidence and expert perspectives presented to us as conference leaders raise serious concerns about the safety of playing fall sports.

 

We know our student-athletes want to compete and that our coaches want to coach. We share their extreme disappointment about not being able to do so this fall. We have a responsibility to our student-athletes, and everyone involved with our athletics programs, to put their health and safety above all else. That responsibility remained our top priority throughout these discussions and it’s why this decision was made.

 

We welcome our student-athletes to remain on campus to study, to train and to practice within Big Ten Conference and NCAA established limits. We are committed to the safest environment for all of our students, including our student-athletes."