The Big Ten, as expected, pulled the plug on its fall sports season Tuesday. A few hours later, the Pac-12 went a step further in its response to the coronavirus pandemic by cancelling all athletic competition through the end of the calendar year -- not only wiping out football, but ensuring a delayed start to basketball season as well.
The unprecedented moves sent shockwaves throughout the sports world. But at least for now, the ripple effect has yet to reach the Atlantic Coast.
Specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference.
In a statement issued shortly after the Big Ten and Pac-12 made their announcements, the conference reiterated its intention to go ahead with its 11-game 2020 football schedule as planned.
"The ACC will continue to make decisions based on medical advice, inclusive of our Medical Advisory Group, local and state health guidelines, and do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions," the statement said. "The safety of our students, staff and overall campus communities will always be our top priority, and we are pleased with the protocols being administrated on our 15 campuses.
"We will continue to follow our process that has been in place for months and has served us well. We understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape evolves.”
The ACC's 15 athletic directors, including NC State's Boo Corrigan, agreed to continue "moving forward in an attempt to play" this fall during a conference call on Monday. It's a stance endorsed during a separate call among the league's university presidents.
It's a decision that was made, in part, based on the advice given them by the head of the ACC's medical advisory board.
Contrary to the opinion of those in the Big Ten and Pac-12, Duke infectious disease specialist Dr. Cameron Wolfe believes that the season can be played safely despite the continuing spread of COVID-19.
According to a report in the Sports Business Daily, Wolfe told commissioner John Swofford and the ACC's athletic directors that while they have to be comfortable with some level of risk tolerance -- since there is no way to eliminate it completely -- the risk can be managed.
It's a risk the players are more than ready to take.
Over the past two days, a significant number of them have taken to social media in an effort to save their season. It's a movement led Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, among others, using the hashtags #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUntied.
“The ACC is moving forward, no matter what any other conference does — Big Ten, Pac-12,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said in a Zoom conference Monday. “We’re moving forward and it’s because of the advice we’re getting from our medical advisory board. They’re saying that we’re okay to keep pushing forward. Our presidents are okay to keep pushing forward. So that’s what we’re going to do — until we hear otherwise.”
As of now, the ACC's revised 2020 schedule is set to begin on Saturday, Sept. 12 with the Wolfpack traveling to Virginia Tech.
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