The Big Ten Conference pulled the plug on the fall sports season on Tuesday, making the decision to move football and all other fall sports to the second semester due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said they just believe collectively there is too much uncertainty at this point in time in our country to really encourage student-athletes to participate in fall sports.
“One of the things we promised ourselves was that this was going to be a fluid situation, a day-to-day situation,” Warren said. “And we would be in a perpetual state of observing, gathering information and we could do everything we possibly could to have fall sports.
“And I’ve said it from the first day that I started at the Big Ten, that the health and wellness, both physical and mental, of our student-athletes was going to be at the top of my list.”
The Big Ten wasn’t alone in making such a move. The Pac-12 postponed fall sports through the end of the year.
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst expressed concern about playing in the spring and then again in the fall and the toll it will take on players bodies. Several players, via Twitter, shared the same concerns. So did UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez.
While no decisions have been made, but Alvarez said a spring season would likely have to be a reduced season, maybe seven or eight games.
The shutdown in the fall will also be a costly one to the university. UW could lose out on as much as $100 million in revenue from lost media rights, ticket sales, bowl distributions and more.
In May, the UW athletic department’s 25 highest-paid employees took voluntary pay cuts of 15% for six months. Alvarez said Tuesday he wasn’t sure if those cuts would be extended. The UW will likely have to tap into its reserve fund, which stands at $190 million.
Other schools around the country have already made the decision to cut sports as a cost-cutting measure.
“That is the one thing we have not discussed,” Alvarez said. “I will try to get through this without eliminating sports.
“I know there are going to be some schools that are going to have to. That has not been in our discussions and I hope it stays that way.”
As a part of the decision, the Big Ten is allowing coaches to stay in contact with their players, holding workouts, strength and conditioning, whatever they see fit. Fall sports can have up to 20 hours a week to work with athletes.