Big Ten moving to conference-only schedule for fall 2020

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FILE – This March 7, 2014, file photo shows the entrance to The Big Ten Experience on the ground floor of the Big Ten conference headquarters in Rosemont, Ill. There are 130 major college football teams, spread across 41 states and competing in 10 conferences, save for a handful of independents. The goal is to have all those teams start the upcoming season at the same time — whether that’s around Labor Day as scheduled or later — and play the same number of games. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

(KXAN) — The Big Ten has become the first college football power conference to make a key decision on the fate of the 2020 football season.

The Big 10 Conference announced on Thursday in a release that it will move to play a conference-only schedule for all fall 2020 sports, eliminating the three non-conference football games normally played at the beginning of the season.

“If the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports,” the Big Ten said in its official release.

With the new delay, the Big Ten is essentially projecting to start the football season the weekend of Sept. 26.

The Conference says its decision is grounded in the necessity for flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping games within the conference will allow for leaders to communicate and adjust the schedules more easily as health updates occur.

Additionally, the Conference maintains that a student-athlete with concerns over playing during the pandemic will not be punished for their decision on playing. Any “student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team,” the release says. 

The Atlantic Coast Conference board of directors approved a delay of all fall sports competitions until Sept. 1 on Thursday. North Carolina State and Louisville are scheduled to open the season on Sept. 2 with most football teams scheduled to start during the weekend of Sept. 5.

On Wednesday, the Ivy League canceled all fall sporting events — including football. The Ivy League says it has not made any decisions yet on whether they will move the football season to spring 2021.

The Big 12 Conference hasn’t announced any changes to the upcoming season schedule — yet. Texas Longhorns Athletic Director Chris Del Conte has maintained that his athletics staff is working and planning for a fall football season.

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