Big Ten teams are waiting on clearance from the conference to start fall practices because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference sent a letter to all 14 schools on Friday outlining its decision-making procedures for the 2020 fall seasons. In the letter, the conference told schools that they can’t begin fall football camps until the conference determines it is safe to do so.
“We will not, and cannot, proceed with preseason camp until we are certain that we can do so safely and that will depend, in part, on testing,” the Big Ten’s letter said. “Once we have everything in place to execute our testing protocols effectively, including the appropriate number of tests secured for all fall sports, we can make a decision as to whether preseason camp will begin as currently scheduled. We anticipate making that decision within the next 5 days.”
Michigan State and Rutgers have been forced to quarantine their teams for 14 days recently because of a rash of positive coronavirus tests within each program.
Season isn’t guaranteed
The Big Ten also makes it clear that there is no guarantee that the 2020 football season will happen. The Big Ten was the first conference to modify its teams’ schedules when it announced that it was going to a conference-only schedule in 2020. Since the Big Ten’s announcement, the Pac-12, ACC and SEC have all made similar decisions.
The health and safety of our students, student-athletes, and everyone associated with our Big Ten university communities has been and will remain our primary focus. We remain hopeful to compete this fall in men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball, understanding that we must operate in a manner that seeks to address the challenges that COVID-19 presents. If we determine as a Conference that it is not prudent to compete in the fall of 2020, we will not do so, much like our decision in March 2020 to cancel the Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. Our final decision will be rooted in guidance from medical experts and in consultation with institutional leadership, student-athletes, coaches and appropriate federal, state, and local authorities.
In addition to going to a 10-game conference-only schedule for its teams, the SEC announced Thursday that it was delaying the start of its teams’ seasons until Sept. 26.
Medical policies coming soon
The Big Ten also said it was in the process of outlining conference-wide medical policies and procedures for teams to follow.
We will release our Big Ten Conference medical policies and protocols during the week of August 3, 2020. These protocols are being finalized by the Task Force with significant advisement from the Committee. Policies and protocols will include medical standardized testing requirements that will be consistently evaluated to ensure we are accounting for current medical recommendations. We believe that the implementation of these protocols will help us mitigate risk as we seek to safely resume athletic activity and competition.
While the Big Ten has said that teams will only play conference opponents, it hasn’t revealed what the schedules will look like. It reasons that the schedules will be revealed after the conference gives its teams the go-ahead to start practicing.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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