GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Big Ten Football is returning, the conference made the announcement Wednesday that play will start October 23 and 24. Six members of the conference took questions during a morning press conference explaining that the vote was unanimous amongst the conference’s fourteen schools, stating the change in their decision is based on medical experts. “For me it wasn’t political pressure, it wasn’t about money or lawsuits or what everybody else is doing. It was the unanimous opinion of our medical experts and that sort of evolved over the course of weeks,” said Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, adding that his mind wasn’t made up until the past couple of days.
The conference will perform daily rapid response antigen testing and will have positive tests confirmed through PCR testing as well. Ohio State University Football Head Physician, Dr. James Borchers explained that the conference will take a green, yellow and red light approach when it comes to deciding whether a team continues from week to week based on a percentage of positive players. “When we reach those red rates, teams will be stopping their activities, practice and games, for at-least seven days so we can reevaluate where we are at,” explained Dr. Borchers.
And perhaps the best evidence that the conference is putting student-athletes’ health above all else, any player testing positive for Covid 19 must be out of competition for at-least 21 days, a rule put in place to allow schools to further investigate potential heart complications believed to be associated with Covid, and they would wait at-least two weeks before performing heart tests. “Our experts agree that there needed to be at-least fourteen days from a positive test at a minimum before that cardiac testing was completed and evaluated by cardiology experts and then that athlete cleared,” explained Dr. Borchers.
Michigan State University President, Samuel L Stanley Jr. M.D. released a statement about the return of football saying, “I support this decision to allow a modified fall football season. With all that we’ve learned in the past month about rapid response testing, and from other athletic leagues both professional and collegiate, I feel more confident that we can collectively play football while still keeping our student athletes, coaches and staff safe. MSU will adhere to the regulations put forth by the Big Ten Conference to move forward in a safe and thoughtful manner.”
The conference hopes to play nine games in nine weeks before the conference championship game is held in late December.