It’s official: Big Ten football is coming back next month

The season is set to start October 23-24
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 8:07 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 8:47 AM CDT
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CHICAGO, Ill. (WMTV/AP) - After days of rumors, the Big Ten Conference confirmed Wednesday that football will return starting next month.

Conference officials said play would kick off the weekend of October 23 and 24. The about-face comes after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 24. Each team will have an eight-game schedule.

The statement did not detail what would happen with other fall and winter sports , only that information will be coming soon.

The conference also detailed all of the procedures the conference has put in place to protect student-athletes, coaches, and staff. Those steps include daily antigen testing that will be recorded before each game or practice.

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee.

Not only is the league taking steps to ensure its athletes are free from the virus, it plans to create a cardiac registry that will track the effects of COVID-19 on any players who do test positive. It states the registry “attempt(s) to answer many of the unknowns” about the cardiac effects of coronavirus on elite athletes.

“From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students. The new medical protocols and standards put into place by the Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force were pivotal in the decision to move forward with sports in the conference,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President, and Chair of the Return to Competition Task Force Steering Committee.

The Pac-12 recently announced a partnership with a diagnostic lab that will give the conference’s schools the capacity to test athletes daily. The Big Ten believes it can do the same and that it is a game-changer.

The move came amid sharp pressure from coaches, a lawsuit from players and pressure from parents and even President Donald Trump pushing for a Big Ten football season. The conference is home to a number of battleground states in the November election.

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