The Big Ten Conference is going to have football after all.
Less than five weeks after pushing fall sports into the spring with player safety concerns in the middle of a pandemic, the conference changed its mind with University Presidents and Chancellors voting unanimously to open its football season the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
All 14 teams will play eight games over eight weeks before Big Ten Championship weekend December 19th. At that time, the first place team in the West will play the first place team in the East for the Big Ten title. The second place teams will face each other, the third place teams will square off and so on, giving each team a ninth game. The new schedule is expected to be released by the end of the week.
The emergence of daily rapid-response testing that wasn’t available last month helped trigger the re-vote, as did recent information about myocarditis, a heart condition linked to COVID-19, to which the league adopted enhanced cardiac screening. Any team with a five-percent positivity rate would immediately stop practice.
In a statement, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said he’s thrilled for the student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans that Big Ten football will return in October. Alvarez said he spoke with Badger coach Paul Chryst and they both feel good about having the Badgers ready to play when the time comes.
The Big Ten says athletes from every sport will be tested daily and the status of the other fall sports, and winter sports will be updated shortly. The Big Ten also announced there will be no public ticket sales so no fans will be allowed to attend sporting events this year. The only spectators that will be allowed will be family members of the players and coaching staff.