Big Ten, Pac-12 Cancel Fall Football Seasons, Aim to Play in Spring

The remaining Power Five conferences in the NCAA — the SEC, ACC and Big 12 — have not made a decision on the status of their 2020 football season.

Big Ten, Pac-12 Cancel Fall Football Seasons, Aim to Play in Spring

Two of college football’s major conferences opted out of fall football Tuesday, adding to the growing list of canceled or postponed college sports as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences voted to postpone all fall sports, including football. The conferences will attempt to play football in the spring but are offering no guarantees, reports Sports Illustrated.

Big Ten universities voted 12-2 to cancel the upcoming season. Iowa and Nebraska voted against canceling the season. The conference had originally announced on July 9 that it would be switching to a conference-only season for all fall sports, as did Pac-12.

Big Ten made its announcement at 3 p.m. ET with Pac-12 making its announcement less than two hours later. The Big Ten cited medical concerns related to attempting to conduct fall sports during the pandemic, specifically referring to recent data regarding heart issues suffered by some young people who contracted the virus.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes have 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.”

Pac-12 schools unanimously voted to cancel the season, according to The Los Angeles Times. It had assembled a medical advisory committee in March when the NCAA shut down winter and spring sports. The group noted three reasons it recommended the delay of the football season: community spread of the virus in geographic areas surrounding the Pac-12 is still too high; the long-term impacts of myocarditis are unknown; and the current testing capacity is not sufficient.

“Ever since this nightmare began, we have been talking about what we would do and how we would approach this in regards to intercollegiate athletics,” Oregon President Michael H. Schill said. “One of the things that’s really important is that we are science-based, we are academics, we’re going to be looking at facts, not just opinions. At the same time, we fully understand this has tremendous human impacts. We have students whose dream was to play this year, and that dream, at least in the fall, is not going to happen.”

The remaining three Power Five conferences in the NCAA — the SEC, ACC and Big 12 — have not made any announcements on the status of their 2020 football season.

According to Sports Illustrated, multiple sources said the Big 12 is split in its decision. Athletic directors and presidents were expected to have a joint call Tuesday night, along with medical experts from each school, to help make a decision. Many sources believe Big 12’s decision will influence the decisions of the other remaining conferences.

Similar to how Big Ten and Pac-12 changed original plans to move to a conference-only season, more colleges are walking back on initial decisions to bring students back to campus for the fall semester, reports Business Insider.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, which has been tracking reopening plans for 1,250 colleges across the country, only 49% of colleges are planning on an in-person fall semester. Back in late June, that number was almost 65%.

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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