The past few days have been an absolute whirlwind, as the Wisconsin Badgers football team practiced on both Monday and Tuesday, prior to the announcement of fall sports being cancelled across the Big Ten Conference.
With an upheaval of the traditional fall calendar, the conference announced a desire to pursue the potential for a spring season.
With that announcement coming from the Big Ten, Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez joined the media Tuesday to discuss the decision.
Leading up to meeting with the media, the longstanding AD stated on Big Ten Network that teams will be able to stay on a 20-hour week for the fall that includes workouts and drills. This move essentially takes the place of the customary spring practice schedule that was missed out on at the start of the year, and shifts it to the fall in anticipation of keeping athletes prepared.
After his interview on BTN, Alvarez met with the local and national media, and began the meeting by discussing the idea of a spring season. He mentioned that he would lean heavily on his relationship with head coach Paul Chryst, who had coached a spring season back in his earlier days as a coach. However, acknowledging that the rigors of two full seasons would not be viable, and that a spring season would need to be condensed.
Barry Alvarez said that his natural inclination would be 6-8 games in the spring if there is a season in the second semester.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 11, 2020
In terms of eligibility issues, Barry Alvarez stated that there would be a meeting tomorrow to further figure out the answers to eligibility concerns. Highlighting that these decisions have had a tremendous toll on him physically, but that they will need to work to find answers.
Barry Alvarez on his Zoom with the media, noted that they have set up several budgets depending on different routes the conference took. The University does have reserve, but that there will have to be layoffs.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 11, 2020
He highlighted how difficult those decisions will be to make.
Alvarez continued to go on to the financial implications, stating that there would likely be layoffs and furloughs in the department, but that the hope is to stay away from cutting sports. He did however say that he could see other universities outside of Wisconsin being forced to slash sports. Alvarez also went on the record to state that their primary goal will be to stay away from student services and other parts of the department that directly benefits the athletes.
Alvarez said that the department has not yet discussed the possibility to eliminate sports. Hopes it stays that way.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 11, 2020
In the end the decision to cancel the season appears to be tied directly to player safety and health, as Alvarez said that the cost of testing compliance and keeping athletes safe never came up as a reason to cancel the season. “We were going to handle that, that was never an issue” he said during at the end of the meeting.
Overall, there appears to be a great deal of uncertainty remaining, even after the brief 25 minute meeting. Many of the remaining questions will undoubtedly be answered or dealt with in the coming months, but regardless...today was a rough day for Wisconsin athletics, and the for the conference as a whole.
As a sports writer, I feel sick for the players specifically that this directly impacts.