In a reversal of its decision to cancel its 2020 college football schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Ten Athletic Conference on Wednesday announced its intention to resume play in October.
In a statement posted on its website, the conference said its Council of Presidents and Chancellors unanimously voted to resume the football season from the weekend of October 23, 2020. Last month, the collection of colleges and universities voted 11 to 3 to postpone the season, with Ohio State University, University of Iowa and University of Nebraska voting against.
The conference said the emergence of daily rapid-response COVID-19 tests, not available when university presidents and chancellors decided to end the season, helped trigger a new vote. The Big Ten said it will begin daily antigen testing of its athletes, coaches and employees on September 30.
FILE – Fans attend a protest, hosted by parents of Ohio State soccer players, against the cancellation of the Big Ten Conference soccer season due to coronavirus concerns, at the exterior of Ohio State Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on August 29, 2020.
As part of the plan, team positivity rates and school population positivity rate thresholds will be used to determine whether teams should stop practice or play. The earliest an athlete can return to competitive gaming would be 21 days after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Each team will play eight games in eight weeks and the conference championship game will be on December 19 if all goes well. This should give the Big Ten the opportunity to compete for the national championship.
After the Big Ten’s initial decision not to play this season, the league felt pressure from parents, coaches, athletes and politicians, including U.S. President Donald Trump, to resume their schedule.
The sports conference is made up of 14 institutions, most of which are in the Midwestern United States, a key “battleground” region in the November election.
Trump had criticized the initial decision not to play and, on his Twitter account on Wednesday, expressed his pleasure at the announcement of the overthrow, even welcoming the decision, saying it was his “great honor to have helped” .
Good news: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All the teams participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents and all school representatives. Have a fantastic season! It is my great honor to have helped !!!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2020
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