2020 Big 10 and Pac-12 College Football Seasons Postponed Due to Coronavirus

With coronavirus cases continuing to rise across the country, the Big Ten 2020 college football season has been called off

Penn State Football
Penn State Football in November 2019. Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty

Rising cases and deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation of the 2020 Big Ten football season — the latest conference to pull the plug on the collegiate fall sports season.

The Big Ten conference voted on Tuesday to cancel all fall sports, including football, multiple outlets reported. The conference later confirmed the news in a press release.

"In making its decision, which was based on multiple factors, the Big Ten Conference relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee," the press release said.

Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president, said in a statement that "Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff."

The other sports impacted are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.

"The Big Ten Conference will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring. Decisions regarding winter and spring sports will also continue to be evaluated," the press release said.

The conference consists of Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Indiana University, University of Maryland, Rutgers University, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, University of Illinois, University of Nebraska, Purdue University, and Northwestern University.

The Pac-12 Conference — which consists of the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University — quickly followed suit, also announcing their season's cancellation on Tuesday.

“All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans,” Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon, said in a press release. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”

Justin Fields
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Before the Tuesday announcement of the season's cancellation, the writing may have been on the wall for weeks.

In July, the Ivy League canceled all fall sports in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the first Division I conference to do so at the time. This affected hundreds of student-athletes from the conference, which is comprised of Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.

In early August, the University of Connecticut football team canceled their 2020 season, again pointing to coronavirus concerns as their primary reason.

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"After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we've decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season," director of athletics David Benedict said. "The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk."

Stanford University in California cut 11 varsity sports programs in July due to a gap in resources caused by the pandemic. The decision affected men's and women's fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball and wrestling.

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