Big Ten fans have been eagerly awaiting news about College Football returning for weeks and the Big Ten conference has just confirmed this news in a lengthy press releaase. It took meetings of the Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors, health reports on COVID, and the creation of a comprehensive plan but news outlets are reporting that Big Ten Football is finally back just moments before the Big Ten made their own announcement.
Teams will be able to start playing in late October and they will be eligible for the College Football Playoffs which is welcome news to Ohio State and Penn State. With a start to the season in late October, teams will still be able to get in an 8-game season and play their conference championship game in December before the College Football Playoffs.
The Big Ten just made it official and teams will be able to play beginning October 23/24th. Here’s an excerpt from their press release:
The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) adopted significant medical protocols and has voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020: https://t.co/b5yHShGb1D
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) September 16, 2020
The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) adopted significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition. The COP/C voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020. The decision was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the COP/C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.
The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.
“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee.
“The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”
Each institution will designate a Chief Infection Officer (CInO) who will oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten Conference. Team test positivity rate and population positivity rate thresholds will be used to determine recommendations for continuing practice and competition.
All COVID-19 positive student-athletes will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing to include labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI. Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.
Positivity rate will be determined on a 7-day rolling average ranging from Green (0-2%) to Red (above 7.5%) and determinations will be made around those. If a team reaches Red they will need to stop practice and competition for AT LEAST 7 days before resuming.
A lot of insiders were quick to the announcement this morning before the Big Ten made it public:
Sources: The Big Ten is coming back and will begin the weekend of Oct. 24. It'll include daily, rapid testing as a fixture of the plan. A statement from the league is imminent.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 16, 2020
Good morning, Big Ten fans. Today looks like your day. Sources tell @SInow that a return to fall football is expected to be announced today, perhaps before noon.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) September 16, 2020
The Big Ten is expected to announce on Wednesday a return to football in October, sources confirmed to ESPN.
The news was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. pic.twitter.com/CcW7dLaeKv
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 16, 2020
BIG TEN RETURNING: ABC News has confirmed the conference is expected to announce Wednesday morning that Big Ten football, including Penn State, will return next month.
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) September 16, 2020
The Big Ten was the first conference to announce that they wouldn’t hold a college football season and the Pac quickly followed suit. They expected the ACC to follow as well as the Big-12 and then they assumed the SEC would give in as the only conference on the outside. But there was an interesting story about how Notre Dame swooped in and ruined their plans with Big Ten fans left wondering why other top programs were playing College Football this season and their teams weren’t.
It’s unclear if fans will be allowed at the games but I suspect that will be a school-by-school decision and change throughout the season.