Since announcing on August 11th that fall sports were being cancelled as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Ten Conference has spent the past month being rightly pilloried by, well, just about everyone in the college sports realm for how they’ve handled this situation.
The B1G withheld information about their decision making and clearly didn’t have all of their member institutions lined up together as Ohio State, Nebraska and others loudly disagreed with the decision publicly. There have been parental protests outside of the B1G offices outside of Chicago, there have been protests at stadiums around the conference and there have been lawsuits filed to get the conference to spill the beans about what actually is happening. Hell, the president of the United States has even chimed in!
On Thursday however, The Athletic reported ($) that a B1G source “said the league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) is expected to be briefed by the conference’s medical subcommittee this weekend and — if the group feels confident based on that information — could vote on a restart date as soon as Sunday.” Another source told ESPN about the rapid testing options: “it’s light years different than it was five weeks ago.” In fact, Nebraska has already made their own deal to get rapid testing options on campus and if they can do it, what’s stopping other schools in the conference from doing so?
Wisconsin’s athletic director Barry Alvarez is one of the members of the return to competition task force and will have some say in whether or not there is another vote. Despite the positive momentum here, there are still differing viewpoints from decision makers that will need to be addressed. The president of Rutgers, Jonathan Holloway, is still against restarting sports according to an interview he did with NJ Advanced Media on Thursday.
“I know other universities are facing unique pressures in the other direction. I get that. That’s just where I am right now,” Holloway said. “We’ll hope for the best, frankly. No president, whether they’re pushing to start tomorrow or in January, none of us wants to risk our students. There are different levels of comfort and confidence about how we can move forward.”
Then there is Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day, who has been extremely vocal about playing again as soon as possible.
Even if there is a vote on Sunday and if that vote is in favor of playing again sooner rather than later, the B1G wouldn’t be able to get up and running for football for at least another month, and most likely not until the end of October.
It also worth noting that Wisconsin has recently suspended all football and men’s hockey activity due to an outbreak and the campus has gone all virtual for classes and has two large dorms shut down/quarantined.
In the past week, Wisconsin, Maryland and Penn State have paused some or all athletic activities due to COVID-19, Iowa resumed football after a pause, Michigan said it had 0 positives in Aug. and Ohio State called out its conference.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) September 10, 2020
Things are fine in the Big Ten.
UPDATE, 9/12/20 at 4:30 pm CST:
Per a report from Yahoo! Sports Pete Thamel, things went well on Saturday afternoon:
“While a vote on Sunday isn’t guaranteed, it’s likely to come at some point in the next 72 hours. That vote would likely determine both if and when the Big Ten would return to play this season.
The most optimistic date being discussed is Oct. 17 with a Big Ten championship game in late December. Still, nothing is certain. The league has two programs – Maryland and Wisconsin – currently on pause that would struggle to start on that date. The presidents could also decide to start later, as other dates that have been discussed include late November and January.”
We will keep this post updated if anything else breaks throughout the weekend.