MAC ON SPORTS: BIG TEN ANNOUNCES NO NON-CONFERENCE GAMES

 

J. Thomas McNamara

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the positive tests from member universities, the Big Ten just announced it is cancelling all non-conference games for 2020.
    That means Illinois State will not play Illinois in Memorial Stadium Friday night of Labor Day weekend.

    Here’s the Big Ten statement, I just received Thursday afternoon, July 9, “We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority.

    To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports.  Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated.
    By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.
    “This decision was made following many thoughtful conversations over several months between the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Directors of Athletics, Conference Office staff, and medical experts including the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.
    In addition, the Conference announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently permitted to engage in such activities.  Furthermore, Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.
    While Big Ten member institutions continue to rely on the most up-to-date medical information to establish the best protocols for voluntary workouts on their campuses, in compliance with local and state regulations, the Conference is working with the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee to finalize Conference-wide protocols.
    As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  Stay tuned as this could impact what the Illinois High School Association does in relation to its football season, even though there are obvious differences between high school and college football.

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