Big Ten and Pac-12 postpone college football season due to coronavirus pandemic

The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences — home to several marquee programs, including the Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, USC Trojans and Oregon Ducks  — have voted to postpone the upcoming fall season amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The conferences are the first of the Power Five to postpone their seasons. 

“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,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. 

“The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a separate statement. “Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.”

The Big Ten’s decision covers men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. The Pac-12 emphasized that students impacted by the postponement would still have their scholarships guaranteed. 

Both conferences said they would continue to consider options for eventually playing the seasons, including potentially competing in the spring. 

“We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in shaping the future of the talented young women and men who compete in the Big Ten Conference,” Warren said. “Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult.

Multiple Big Ten coaches, including Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Penn State’s James Franklin and Nebraska’s Scott Frost, on Monday urged the conference to hold the season as scheduled, according to CBS Sports. 

A group of prominent players using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, including Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Darien Rencher, and the Ohio State University’s Justin Fields, have also advocated for holding the season in the fall. But according to a tally from CBS Sports, 34 players from the Power Five have already opted out of the season.

CBS Sports also reported that one of the conferences’ major concerns is myocarditis, which involves inflammation of heart muscle. A source within the Big Ten told the outlet that at least 15 Big Ten players had developed myocarditis after contracting COVID-19.

“Myocarditis is the ballgame right now,” a source told CBS Sports. “Myocarditis is the major issue they’re looking at. Between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, that’s what is really driving the push to push this off to spring.”

The decision comes after commissioners of the five biggest conferences, including the Big 10 and Pac-12, met Sunday and Monday to discuss the pandemic. An ACC official told CBS Sports on Monday that the conference is “trying to move forward” with playing.

“[Canceling football in the next couple of days] could happen for some leagues,” the ACC official said. “I’m not sure it’s going to happen in the Atlantic Coast Conference.” 

The ACC, Big 12 and SEC all have regularly scheduled meetings this week. At least two smaller conferences, the Mountain West Conference and the Mid-American Conference, have already canceled fall sports.

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