Big Ten cancels fall sports season due to COVID-19

Schools cited safety concerns, all conferences expected to cancel shortly

Written By: JOE CLARK

On Wednesday, the Big Ten became the first Power Five conference to cancel their fall sports season. It’s expected more conferences will follow in the coming days, which could mean no collegiate fall sports in 2020.

On Monday, the Big Ten conference voted to cancel their fall sports season, and on Tuesday it made an official announcement confirming the cancellation of their fall sports season.

The Pac-12 followed suit on Tuesday, while the Big East announced Wednesday night that all fall sports would be cancelled with hopes to play in the spring.

All other conferences are likely to follow in the coming weeks. Individual conferences at the Division Two and Division Three level started off by cancelling their seasons over the summer, and the Football Championship Series (FCS) quickly followed.

However, there was cautious optimism that the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) would still play due to the financial implications that could follow if they don’t.

That optimism went out the window on Saturday when the Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced they were cancelling their fall football season. The Mountain West became the second conference to cancel their season on Tuesday, but the Big Ten’s decision was especially important as they were the first Power Five conference to make the decision to cancel.

The high-risk nature of football made it difficult to realistically expect a season to be played, but with college football likely no longer happening, the revenue generated from the sport could lead to other sports being cut in the future.

Financial implications due to COVID-19 have already led schools to cut various athletic teams-and with no football it’s expected another wave of teams will get cut at schools
across the nation.

With no football, a serious question is raised about the viability of playing any collegiate sports in the fall, which could lead to no college sports at all until the winter.The Big Ten’s decision to cancel all fall sports means other conferences will likely follow suit.

The loss of a college football season also has a serious impact on the players who may have been looking to make an impact in their final collegiate sea- sons to try and get the attention of NFL teams.

Joe Burrow, the first overall pick in this years’ NFL Draft tweeted, “I feel for all college
athletes right now. I hope their voices are heard by the decision makers. If this happened a year ago, I may be looking for a job right now.” Burrow wasn’t projected to be an NFL prospect before last college football season, but his historic numbers helped him become the first pick in the draft.

In recent days, college football athletes have been tweeting with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, and multiple college coaches including Michigan’s John Harbaugh and Ohio State’s Ryan Day have also spoken out in support of playing
this season.

If a college football season doesn’t happen, college basketball will be the next sport likely to be impacted by COVID-19, and college presidents and athletic directors will have to try and figure out a way to safely play basketball.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported last week that the Big East and Big Ten have
looked into the idea of playing games in a bubble but given that players may
still have to attend classes it doesn’t seem like a possibility.

In the Pac-12’s announcement on Tuesday, they announced that no team in the conference would play sports until 2021, which would nix the non-conference portion of the league’s basketball schedule.

That decision could be followed by other conferences, which would make for an interesting basketball season.