Big Ten Cancels Fall Football Season, But Could Still Play In Spring

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOSU) —The Big Ten Conference has canceled the fall football season for the first time in its 125-year history, along with all other fall sports. But the conference may still pursue a season this spring.

Ohio State Marching Band and Alumni Marching Band Members perform Script Ohio at an Ohio State football game
Ohio State Marching Band and Alumni Marching Band Members perform Script Ohio at an Ohio State football game. [Thomas Bradley | WOSU News]
“As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall,” said Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren in a statement.

In addition to football, affected sports include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.

“The Big Ten Conference will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring,” the statement reads. “Decisions regarding winter and spring sports will also continue to be evaluated.”

University presidents met Tuesday with several options in mind, including pushing back the start of the season or postponing it until spring. An official announcement is expected this afternoon.

Players, coaches and even some politicians made a push Monday against outright cancellation.

“If anything, let’s only postpone the season. Certainly let’s not cancel it right now,” Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day told 10TV.

Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Fields also tweeted about his desire to play. The statement shared by Fields calls for a season that includes health and safety procedures across all conferences, and players having the ability to opt out of the season without losing their eligibility.

“While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point,” Warren wrote.

A university spokesman declined comment Monday, and the team held its scheduled practice that morning. Ohio State was slated to play its first game against Illinois on September 3, under a condensed 10-game schedule.

The cancellation of the fall season comes as Ohio and other states around the Midwest deal with spikes in coronavirus cases. However, many universities are still moving to bring students back to campus this month for some mix of in-person and remote classes.

If Big Ten postpones the season while other major conferences like the SEC and ACC continuing to play, it would be a blow to Ohio State, which competes every year for the nation’s top high school recruits. If the season were called off, many of the Buckeye’s top players could request NCAA waivers allowing them to transfer immediately.

The Big Ten released the season schedule last week, about a month after announcing schools would only play in-confernece games to give them more flexibility to reschedule those games if necessary.