Big Ten Will Have Conference-Only Schedule For Fall Sports
The Big Ten announced on Thursday it will be going to a conference-only schedule for its fall sports if those seasons are allowed to go on as planned.
The decision comes as conferences around the nation have tried to decide what to do with the fall seasons as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The move affects football, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
The Big Ten said that by limiting itself to league games only, "the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic."
“We fully support the actions being taken by the Big Ten Conference, knowing that the health, safety, and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff is the top priority," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said in a statement. "The past few months have entailed numerous conversations between my conference colleagues, Commissioner Warren and our Big Ten presidents, as we have worked to navigate the challenges associated with this pandemic.
"The uncertainties have been difficult on our student-athletes and coaches and I appreciate their continued understanding of the situation. I am grateful for our fans who are also waiting for direction. While many uncertainties still exist, today’s decision will provide the greatest amount of flexibility as we move forward.”
The Big Ten also announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports that are allowed to have workouts.
Also, athletes who choose not to participate for their teams at any time during the summer or during the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus "will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team."
Details on how many games and events will be held in each sport have not been determined, the Big Ten said. Sports Illustrated reported that the football schedule would be 10 games.
That would be somewhat good news for Iowa, which had just four conference home games this season and would be losing all three of its nonconference home games.
The loss of nonconference games means a one-season pause in Iowa's rivalry series with Iowa State. The two teams have played in every season since 1977.
Iowa was scheduled to open the football season on Sept. 5 at home against Northern Iowa. The Iowa-Iowa State game was set for Sept. 12, with the final nonconference game against Northern Illinois scheduled for Sept. 26.
The Big Ten also said in its statement that it is working with its Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Sports Medicine Committee to finalize conference-wide protocols.
"As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate," the conference said in its statement.