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J. Thomas McNamara

    Big Ten football will return to the gridirons the weekend of Oct. 23-24 with the league members playing a nine game schedule, eight regular season and then a ninth game on championship Saturday depending on where they finish in their respective divisions.

    Here’s Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman’s statement:
    “I am grateful to my colleagues across the Big Ten Conference, including Commissioner Warren, the Big Ten staff, the other 13 athletic directors, our coaches, and our medical professionals, all of whom have worked tirelessly for many months to play Big Ten sports as safely as possible in the midst of our world’s current health challenges.
    “These efforts have only intensified in these last weeks, and I have been more impressed than ever with the collaboration, resourcefulness, and determination needed to arrive at today’s decision.
    “I want to thank the presidents and chancellors of our 14 member institutions for their unyielding concern for our staff, student-athletes, and fans; for their trust and confidence in the work and guidance of our various practitioners, especially our medical experts; and for their strength and leadership in making hard decisions in difficult circumstances.
    “More than anything, I want to thank our student-athletes. From Day 1, they have done everything we have asked of them. Their competitiveness, work ethic, flexibility, patience, inquisitiveness, sacrifice, and commitment have been an inspiration for me and for all. I have never been so proud to be associated with the University of Illinois and the Big Ten Conference, and I am excited to continue the tough, gritty progress needed to see our teams compete at the highest level this year in the safest, healthiest environment we can create.”
    The schedule will be released later this week.
    I will have more on this obviously developing and continuing Big Ten saga in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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