Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things have been very unusual in your normal lives, and in the world of sports for the better part of 5 months. In the latest coronavirus-induced decision, the Big Ten conference announced they would be having a “conference only” football schedule for 2020 (assuming there’s a 2020 CFB season, but that’s another discussion).
Here is the statement from the Big Ten, released earlier today:
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.
To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. 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.
This decision was made following many thoughtful conversations over several months between the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Directors of Athletics, Conference Office staff, and medical experts including the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.
In addition, the Conference announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently permitted to engage in such activities. Furthermore, Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.
While Big Ten member institutions continue to rely on the most up-to-date medical information to establish the best protocols for voluntary workouts on their campuses, in compliance with local and state regulations, the Conference is working with the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee to finalize Conference-wide protocols.
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.
While Miami was not mentioned in this decision, it affects the Canes directly. Miami was scheduled to travel to East Lansing, MI to face the Michigan State Spartans on September 26th. That game will no longer happen after this announcement.
University of Miami Athletic Director Blake James released this statement regarding the Big Ten’s decision and announcement:
“I am aware of the announcement made by the Big 10 today. While we are disappointed to lose the opportunity to face Michigan State during the 2020 season, we will work with the ACC to best position our program for the upcoming season.”
As it presently stands, Miami would play an 11-game football season this fall. That is, of course, assuming that there is a football season this fall, which is yet to be fully determined or decided.
While it is tough to lose a game that I personally have been looking forward to for quite some time — I had travel plans to return home to Michigan for a week and drive up early from Detroit to EL for the game — I understand this decision. Following the Ivy League cancelling ALL fall athletics, the Big Ten’s move to a conference-only schedule makes logical sense. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
While this could be the only schedule alteration the Canes see for this fall, this could also be the start of several changes or cancellations as the Coronavirus pandemic situation continues to affect the United States.
We’ll have more on the schedule and further developments as they’re available.