After increasing speculation the past few days, earlier today the Big Ten officially announced plans to resume the football season beginning the weekend of October 23. The vote conducted by the Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors Council was unanimous.
“Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love.”
With the resumption of the season officially announced, there are several important components to the announcement. First, beginning on September 30 all athletes, coaches, trainers and anyone else who’s on the field for practices will be tested daily. If a student athlete tests positive, the earliest possible return date is 21 days later. Additionally, if a team’s positivity is 5% or greater practices will be halted for a week minimum.
Another challenge in the Big Ten’s plans for restart involved the link between positive COVID-19 diagnosis and potential long-term cardiac issues for college athletes. However, the conference announced specific cardiac related safety measures. Any student athlete who tests positive for COVID will undergo cardiac testing and must be cleared by a cardiologist before returning to play.
On September 3, Maryland Athletics announced they were halting practices as 46 athletes across 10 different teams tested positive. Since that announcement, football has resumed practice as well as 12 other teams. While the Terps official schedule has not been released yet, the team will play a nine-game regular season schedule. All 14 teams in the conference will play a nine-game schedule. The 12 teams not participating in the Big Ten Championship game will face the corresponding team in the other division for the ninth and final game of the season.
While the Big Ten has not yet made a decision on all other fall sports, the conference announced a decision on the remaining fall sports should be coming out soon. However, Commissioner Warren said that all fall sports athletes will have access to daily testing.