With the announcement of the Big Ten returning to play this October there was a huge wave of excitement around the conference. After that wave though, there came a lot of questions on how, where, and when the games will proceed. Thankfully for Wisconsin Badgers fans athletic director Barry Alvarez has been a key figure in the return to play, and he provided some answers to those questions in a press conference with Wisconsin media members this morning.
First, Alvarez was asked about the look in regards to returning to play. When asked about the optics of returning to playing while UW-Madison heads toward a possible shut down, Alvarez had this to say.
“Obviously it concerns all of us and certainly concerns me but the campus doesn’t afford the fact that they are going to test daily. Quite frankly we’ve been, for the past month up up until the last weekend our players as far as practicing, working out, and all that, anything that has occurred at our facility, stadium, or practice site we’ve been able to control. Now, as we move forward in daily testing I think that makes me feel very much at ease.”
Alvarez was then asked about discussions involving a bubble-type situation for athletes given the number of cases rising on campus.
“We have not had that discussion, although we have constant discussions with our athletes about responsibility. We’ve tried to take it a step further and ask them to be leaders on this campus and in this community where they can send a safe message and help improve our situation in Madison and in particular on campus.”
After the COVID-19 case questions, the conversation turned to the schedule and how many different situations they have discussed in order to return to play, which includes the possibility for Friday and even Monday games.
“We had quite a few schedules that were presented to us and we went through them with Fox and we’re advisers as far as which ones made the most sense for them. One of the things they asked that we have flexibility in our scheduling as far as playing Friday in prime time maybe even on a Monday at sometime. We agreed that we would be flexible in our scheduling.”
To round out the conversation, Barry touched on how the conference will proceed with teams possibly being unable to play due to COVID-19, and how that might impact the standings with no bye week included in the schedule.
“I think that is yet to be determined although we do have a medical protocol in place and every campus will have a protocol... there are criteria that determine the percentage whether you’re at risk, whether you shut down, or whether you move forward. That’s all going to be laid out with the Big Ten for us before we start the season.”
Overall, the presser was brief but Alvarez touched on some very important aspects of the now upcoming season, and as we move forward into this new season there will more to come. Either way, I think we are all excited that the Big Ten is going to give their players and coaches a shot after handling the last two months strongly.