Just a month after postponing its fall sports season to the spring, the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday announced it will indeed play football this fall, with the season set to begin the weekend of Oct. 23.
The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to play this season in the fall, citing “significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition."
It’s a stunning reversal after the conference received pressure from players, coaches, parents, fans and even President Donald Trump to change its decision.
When the Big Ten initially postponed the season, it cited health concerns — particularly myocarditis, a heart condition linked to COVID-19 — and a lack of rapid testing it thought would hamper its ability to quickly identify coronavirus cases.
As part of the decision to play this fall, student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other personnel that are on the field for practice and games will undergo daily antigen testing. Student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 through point-of-contact daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction test to confirm the result of the POC test.
Student-athletes who test positive will also have to undergo multiple forms of cardiac testing and receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university. The earliest a student-athlete can return to activities after a positive test is 21 days. Daily testing will begin Sept. 30.
The Big Ten will announce updates regarding the remainder of fall sports, along with winter sports, at a later time.
The Pac-12 also announced last month it would postpone the fall sports season, while the Atlantic Coastal Conference and Big 12 kicked off their seasons last weekend. The Southeastern Conference will begin its season next weekend.
The University of Maryland on Sept. 3 announced all athletic activities were postponed after reporting 46 positive tests within the athletic department. However, the football team resumed practice on Sept. 11, according to a football team spokesperson.
Date and times for Maryland games have not been announced. The Terps were scheduled to open the season with road games at Indiana and Iowa before hosting five straight home games against Michigan State, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota. The Terps would close the season with a game at Michigan.
This story will be updated.
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