Big Ten will only play conference games in fall sports

Big Ten will only play conference games in fall sports
Ohio State will face Michigan in football this season, but games outside of the BIg Ten conference will not be played (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Officials from The Big Ten on Thursday said it will play a conference-only season for all fall sports, including football.

Other sports impacted by the decision, made because of the coronavirus pandemic, are women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, and men’s and women’s soccer, The Big Ten said in a statement.

The Big Ten becomes the first Power 5 conference to announce major changes to its 2020 schedule, CBS Sports reported. On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced it was canceling all fall sports.

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“If the Conference is able to participate in fall sports based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports,” the Big Ten said in its statement. “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.”

Reverting to a conference-only schedule would eliminate long-distance travel for most schools and will ensure that teams can be tested for the coronavirus universally, ESPN reported.

Big Ten presidents and athletic directors discussed their options during a conference call earlier this week, the sports network reported.

The conference-only schedule means that in football, Michigan’s season-opener at Washington on Sept. 5 will not be played, CBS Sports reported. Other football games canceled include Ohio State’s trip to Oregon on Sept. 12 and the annual Iowa-Iowa State game. Wisconsin’s game Oct. 3 vs. Notre Dame in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Penn State’s game at Virginia Tech also will be scrapped, the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

“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,” the Big Ten said in its statement.