Big Ten Conference presidents voted to postpone the upcoming football season with the hopes of playing in the spring, the league announced Tuesday.
All fall sports are included in the move. The 10-game conference-only football schedule was slated to begin Sept. 3.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “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.
“Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult. … Everyone associated with the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions is committed to getting everyone back to competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”
In a statement, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said the decision “is the correct one.”
“There is simply too much unknown risk for us to proceed with the confidence we need to launch our sports seasons,” Alvarez said. “There is no way to preserve physical distancing during competition and masking can make competition very difficult. As a result, playing the fall season would pose risks that we think are not acceptable for our student-athletes and our athletic staff.”
Nebraska exploring options
Nebraska officials said they were “disappointed in the decision” and weren’t ready to abandon the possibility of playing football this fall.
“We will continue to consult with medical experts and evaluate the situation as it emerges. We hope that it may be possible for our student athletes to have the opportunity to compete,” read a joint statement from university chancellor Ronnie Green, athletic director Bill Moos and Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost.
The move comes amid concern that a rare heart condition could result from players contracting the coronavirus. Five Big Ten players have reportedly been found to have myocarditis, which is inflammation of tissue in the heart.
Usually the result of a viral infection, complications of myocarditis include heart damage and possibly fatal heart attacks.