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Big 10 reverses course, will play football

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

Many schools and conferences have bypassed football and other Fall sports this season as they continue to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. At least one conference, however, has now reversed their initial decision.

 

The Big 10 Conference announced Wednesday that they will begin games the weekend of Oct. 23-24. Initially, the league pushed their Falls sports back to Spring, citing player safety during the pandemic.

 

The Big 10 consists of 14 teams that include member teams Indiana University, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State Rutgers, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. Johns Hopkins University and Notre Dame are listed as associate members; however, Notre Dame has been playing this season already as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

 

The Council of Presidents and Chancellors passed the vote to return to play unanimously Tuesday to restart the season. The original vote to postpone the season until Spring was passed last month by a vote of 11-3 with Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska voting against it.

 

While the decision to play was ultimately made by the leadership group, it came after much pressure from players, coaches and parent. President Donald Trump also weighed in on the matter, pushing for a return to play as soon as it was safe to do so.

 

One of the key reasons for the change was the availability of rapid-response testing that was not available before now being in stock. Testing of all Fall athletes, coaches and staff members will begin Sept. 30.

 

Lost revenue was also likely a key factor in the decision.

 

Each of the 14 teams will play an eight-game regular season over the course of eight weeks, with the opportunity for a ninth game Dec. 19. The plan is for that day to be used as a “bowl game” setup, with the No. 2 team from each division playing, the No. 3 teams playing, and so on. That day will also be the date of the conference championship, which will be held in Indianapolis.

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