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Big Ten to play conference only fall schedule in 2020 for football, other sports

It appears the first domino to big change has fallen.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 Michigan at Indiana

It appears the first domino of change for college football has fallen in the Big Ten. In a statement put out by the Big Ten Conference the league announced they will play a conference only schedule this fall in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This decision by the conference will include all fall sports, which, yes, means college football. Below is the statement just announced by the conference.

Overall, the Big Ten will be losing out on some marquee games for the 2020 season. For the Wisconsin Badgers the losses will be two home games against Southern Illinois and Appalachian State, along with a huge contest at Lambeau Field in Green Bay against Notre Dame. Other notable games would be Michigan’s trip to Washington and Ohio State’s trip to Eugene to take on Oregon, among others.

For right now Wisconsin is slated to play a nine game conference schedule with a season opener in conference against Indiana. In addition to that contest, the Badgers will take on Michigan, take a trip to Maryland, and play the rest of the teams in the Big Ten West.

Overall, the Big Ten’s announcement is likely only the first piece of the puzzle. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which the Big Ten will be the only conference making this move. The other power five conferences will likely follow (Editor’s note: the Pac-12 made an announcement while Tyler wrote this), but what does that do to Notre Dame and other independents? For the Badgers specifically they will take on Indiana, a team that will travel 412 miles by bus to get here, and travel 845 miles to College Park, Maryland but won’t be able to take on Notre Dame in some capacity? An interesting storyline to say the least.

For now all we know is the announcement, but it will a major story to watch over the coming days. In March we saw how fast things came down, and we’ll likely see something similar here. As the schedule and changes are announced, we will continue to update here on Bucky’s 5th Quarter.

Here is the full text of the B1G’s announcement:

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.