The Big Ten said it will move to a conference-only model for fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first Power 5 conference to announce a pandemic-related change to its fall sports schedule.
“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 conference said in a statement. “By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”
The conference also announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently allowed to engage in such activities. In addition, Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to COVID-19 concerns will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.
“As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate,” the conference said.