Big Ten Cancels Fall Sports, Hopeful for Spring 2021 Season
The daunting news for fall sports has officially become reality.
The Big Ten has announced that they have postponed fall sports with the possibility of competing in the spring. They become the first Power Five league to cancel the fall season as now 41 teams will not play this fall.
The Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and tournaments, due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In making its decision, which was based on multiple factors, the Big Ten Conference relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee. The fall sports included in this announcement are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball,” the Big Ten announced. “The Big Ten Conference will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring. Decisions regarding winter and spring sports will also continue to be evaluated.”
“The decision announced today by the Big Ten Conference was made in the best interests of the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes," said Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans. "I know that for our student-athletes, returning to campus in the Fall is synonymous with the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the sport they love. Not being able to compete this fall is disappointing for all of us, but I have every confidence they will remain resilient and strong in these trying times. We will continue to support every one of them and will work diligently with university leadership, local and state officials, and the conference to make every effort to provide competitive opportunities for our student-athletes.”
Meanwhile, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren also issued the conference’s rationale behind their new decision. “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.
Maryland was among the long list of schools to open preseason practice this past Friday as head coach Mike Locksley and the players reinforced belief in the safety protocols in place.
“I’m a big believer in how we operate on the rules today. We have a clear-cut, concise plan for how we need to operate to make it safe and healthy for our players and staff,” Locksley told reporters last week. “Starts with one, the mask part. It’s obviously going to be very different. Anybody participating will have some form of mouth-covering, whether the plastic shield over the facemask, gator over the mouth as well as masks underneath the helmets in addition to the face shields we provide on each helmet. Those obviously are different are part of the rules for this year is every member of the team on the field or sideline must have some type of facial covering, be it the helmet covering we provide on all of our facemasks.”
Head coach Mike Locksley reinforced confidence in Maryland's existing health and safety protocols heading into the start of fall camp on Friday, stating "we’re pretty fortunate that how we practice kind of densifies and helps with some of the social distancing things we need to provide because very seldom are we on one field with the whole team." On Tuesday, Locksley released a statement understanding the latest decision.
"I know a significant amount of thought and medical research went into this decision and while I am extremely disappointed for our team, I'm also very understanding. Our players and staff have demonstrated tremendous discipline and attention to detail during this time and I'm extremely proud of them for how they've handled this tough situation. We will continue to do what's best for our student-athletes both on and off the field and when the time comes to compete, we will be ready."