COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Big Ten announced Thursday afternoon that a conference-only schedule will be implemented for 2020 fall sports.
"We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority," the Big Ten said in a prepared release.
Some presidents and athletic directors preferred league-only schedules on a conference call earlier this week. Others, meanwhile, stressed the option of keeping one additional football game beyond to maintain some marquee contests (see below). Big Ten head coaches were also given the opportunity to weigh in Thursday morning.
“I am very concerned,” said Gene Smith, Ohio State Director of Athletics, when asked about playing fall sports in general. “I used to be cautiously optimistic, but I’m not even there now. When you look at our trajectory with the virus, we are either the worst country or one of the worst. We wanted September available to use to provide flexibility and control to handle disruptions.”
Some landmark football contests will be coming off the board. In addition to Ohio State not traveling to Oregon on September 12, there will also be no Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame at Lambeau Field, Michigan at Washington, Penn State at Virginia Tech, Miami (FL) at Michigan State and others.
“I talked to all three of our non-conference athletic directors and shared with them our announcement,” Smith added. “They are going through similar conversations in their leagues and we agreed to talk in the future to try and reschedule, but it’s too early to know what might happen. We did not get into any details.”
Ohio State’s other non-league football dates this year were a pair of Mid-American Conference (MAC) schools in Bowling Green (9/5) and Buffalo (9/19). A total of 36 games across the entire Big Ten will be removed from the schedule.
The announcement comes one day after the Ivy League announced it will play no varsity sports for the remainder of the calendar year. Also yesterday, Ohio State’s Department of Athletics suspended all voluntary workouts on campus after its latest CoVID-19 test results came back.
The Buckeyes are slated to return August 7. Schedules are expected to be revisited beginning next week.