The Big Ten’s Decision to Resume Fall Football
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- The Big Ten Conference will begin holding football games starting October 23.
- The NCAA and Big Ten have adopted new COVID-19 health protocols for student-athletes.
- The decision to resume play raises health and safety concerns for all college students.
- The Big Ten's reversal put pressure on other major NCAA football conferences.
Founded in 1869, the Big Ten Conference is the oldest and largest NCAA Division I athletic conference in the United States. Today, the conference comprises 14 universities — although its name suggests otherwise — that are primarily located in the Midwest. It includes institutions such as The Ohio State University, Michigan State University, and Purdue University. The Big Ten consists of thousands of student-athletes who compete across 28 men's and women's sports.
|Indiana University Bloomington||University of Illinois|
|Michigan State University||University of Iowa|
|Northwestern University||University of Maryland|
|The Ohio State University||University of Michigan|
|Pennsylvania State University||University of Minnesota|
|Purdue University||University of Nebraska-Lincoln|
|Rutgers University||University of Wisconsin-Madison|
The Big Ten's Decision and the Health Risks of Coronavirus
On August 11, the Big Ten announced that it would be indefinitely postponing all fall athletics as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, but it would consider resuming play in the spring. Relying on advice from a counsel of medical experts, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren proclaimed in an open letter that the health risks related to COVID-19 were too uncertain to safely resume competitive sports and that the decision would not be revisited.
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As the first of the major NCAA conferences to postpone fall sports, the decision was met with widespread backlash from coaches, fans, and even players around the NCAA. The Ohio State University's star quarterback, Justin Fields, gathered over 300,000 e-signatures in an attempt to overrule the Big Ten's decision and reinstate the fall football season.
On September 17, the Big Ten Conference reversed its decision to postpone fall sports.
On September 17, the Big Ten Conference reversed its decision to postpone fall sports and announced plans to restart college football in October. Relying on advice from a team of medical experts led by Dr. Chris Kratochvil, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, conference officials pointed to new safety protocols and advanced screening procedures as the deciding factors to resume play.
While Big Ten officials have remained firm in their stance that advancements in testing were the driving force behind the reversal, the amount of money at stake may also help explain why the Big Ten decided to overturn its initial decision.
As the largest NCAA conference, the Big Ten brings in billions of dollars from television contracts, ticket sales, and endorsements. In 2018, its media contracts brought in <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/karenweaver/2020/01/04/the-big-ten-network-was-created-by-and-for-its-fans