The Big Ten Conference, comprised of 14 universities spanning from the east coast to midwest, will only play in-conference matches this fall.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the conference said “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.”
The conference made it clear all summer athletic activities (practices, etc.) are voluntary. They also said any athlete who chooses not to participate in their sport at any time during the summer or 2020/2021 academic year because of COVID-19 concerns will continue to have their scholarship honored by their school and will remain in good standing with the team.
By limiting matches to conference-only opponents, Big Ten hopes to remain nimble enough to adjust their “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.”
The Big Ten Conference includes: University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Wisconsin University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Penn State University, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Purdue University, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Nebraska, Rutgers University, and University of Maryland.
The Big Ten Conference’s decision follows a few hours after the Atlantic Coast Conference decided some of their fall sports would not begin competitive matches until September 1. The ACC’s decision did not specifically include football.
In the statement from Big Ten, they said they are ready to not play at all this fall should medical experts and current circumstances require that.