Big Ten Conference cancels fall sports, will consider playing them in spring

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The Big Ten Conference on Tuesday announced that it has canceled all 2020 fall sports and will instead consider other options to play those sports, including possibly in the spring.

The news comes a week after the conference released a revised 2020 college football conference-only schedule to begin in September.

Report: Big Ten Conference expected to vote to cancel football in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns

"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.

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"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."

Affected sports include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.

Decisions on winter and spring sports will continue to be evaluated, the conference said.

Just a day earlier, several prominent head football coaches in the Big Ten came out in support of playing a 2020 fall season.

The announcement was made after a meeting of university presidents earlier in the day Tuesday.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel and Director of Athletics Mark Coyle released the following joint statement regarding the news:

"The Big Ten Conference and its member institutions have thoughtfully considered the latest public health data and advice of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee throughout discussions about student-athlete safety and the viability of the conference’s fall sports seasons. As of today, the medical evidence and expert perspectives presented to us as conference leaders raise serious concerns about the safety of playing fall sports.

"We know our student-athletes want to compete and that our coaches want to coach. We share their extreme disappointment about not being able to do so this fall. We have a responsibility to our student-athletes, and everyone involved with our athletics programs, to put their health and safety above all else. That responsibility remained our top priority throughout these discussions and it’s why this decision was made.

"We welcome our student-athletes to remain on campus to study, to train and to practice within Big Ten Conference and NCAA established limits. We are committed to the safest environment for all of our students, including our student-athletes."

The Pac-12 Conference followed suit later Tuesday afternoon, saying, "when conditions improve, it would consider a return to competition for impacted sports after January 1, 2021."