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Big Ten postpones football until at least spring

The conference of 14 schools is the first Power Five league to give up on playing football this fall.

Chase Young of the Ohio State Buckeyes chases down the ballcarrier against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Big Ten conference, that of the largest media deal in the sport has decided that tens of millions of dollars isn’t worth the risk for now, and has suspended the start of the 2020 football season until at least the spring semester.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren had the following to say about the decision.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “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.

“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. Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult. While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point. 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.”

As a league that emphasizes the academic side of the college experience as much as any other, it’s not a surprise this is the first Power Five league to cancel football in 2020. With all 14 schools at one time members of the American Association of Universities (Nebraska was removed in 2011), the scholar in scholar-athlete is something the league values highly.

But the media and ticket revenue lost will be in the hundreds of millions, not to mention the economic impact on many college towns across the league that are built around those special Saturdays in the fall. Look for the league to get back on the field as quickly as possible once either a vaccine or some other way to keep student-athletes safe is established.