There will be Big Ten Conference football this fall. The league announced Wednesday morning the 2020 season is scheduled to begin the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
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.
According to the league’s release:
“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.
“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.
“In addition to the medical protocols approved, the 14 Big Ten institutions will establish a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the effects on COVID-19 positive student athletes. The registry and associated data will attempt to answer many of the unknowns regarding the cardiac manifestations in COVID-19 positive elite athletes.
From Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren:
“Our focus with the task force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love.
“We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force have accomplished to ensure the health, safety and wellness of student-athletes, coaches and administrators.”