Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns
By Jason Kurtz, CNN
(CNN) -- The first of college football's "Power Five" conferences won't be playing this fall.
On Tuesday, chancellors and presidents from the Big Ten voted to postpone all fall sports seasons as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic, a development which may signal the beginning of the end for all fall sports at the collegiate level in 2020.
The league hopes to hold the football season in the spring.
"As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall," the Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said.
"Everyone associated with the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions is committed to getting everyone back to competition as soon as it is safe to do so," the commissioner said.
University of Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel said the conference "will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding" fall sports, "including the possibility of competition in the spring."
The postponement of the conference's 2020 football season will put a hold on some of college football's oldest and most heated rivalries, including "The Game," an annual November showdown between Michigan and Ohio State.
The bitter Big Ten rivals have played 115 times, dating back to the series' origin in 1897. This fall will mark the first time since 1918 that the Wolverines and Buckeyes won't battle on the collegiate gridiron.
Big Ten football is rooted in long-standing rivalries, each marked by colorful trophies, including Paul Bunyan's Axe (Minnesota vs. Wisconsin), the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana vs. Purdue) and the Land of Lincoln Trophy (Illinois vs. Northwestern).
With the coronavirus-forced postponement of the season, none of these infamous football fixtures will change hands until at least 2021.
The other four from the "Power Five"
The Pac-12, ACC, SEC, and Big 12 -- the four other "Power Five" leagues -- have yet to declare how they plan to proceed amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leaders from the "Power Five" conferences met over the weekend to discuss postponing the football season and other fall sports, according to reports from multiple sports news outlets including ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, who all cited several sources.
The SEC -- college football's premier top-to-bottom conference -- is reportedly actively recruiting other schools to join the league in an effort to proceed with the season.
Over the weekend a collection of players from schools representing all five of college football's major conferences joined up on a video call to discuss the state of their sport. The result was a statement of unity, calling for better safety and health protocols coupled with a commitment to move forward with the season amid the global pandemic.
Trevor Lawrence, a Heisman Trophy frontrunner and quarterback for the top-ranked Clemson Tigers, shared details of the pact on twitter, along with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.
On Monday President Trump took to Twitter and called for the college football season to continue despite the coronavirus health risk, using the #WeWantToPlay hashtag himself, and retweeting Lawrence's post.
Over the weekend, the Mid-American Conference announced that it was postponing its fall sports schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the first first conference from NCAA's top tier Division I Football Bowl Subdivision to postpone its football season.
Outside of football, the other fall collegiate sports include men's and women's soccer, field hockey, and women's volleyball.
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