Amid ongoing questions surrounding the Big Ten's decision to postpone its fall season, league commissioner Kevin Warren wrote in an open letter on Wednesday that "the vote of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors was "overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited."
The letter, which was addressed to "the Big Ten Community," clarified the factors that led to the cancellation of the fall 2020 season with the hopes to resume play in the spring as the league has faced pushback from players, the parents of players and even some coaches over the decision.
Specifically, Warren cited the following factors that led to the Big Ten deciding it not in its best interests to forge ahead with college football in the fall:
- Transmission rates continue to rise at an alarming rate with little indication from medical experts that our campuses, communities or country could gain control of the spread of the virus prior to the start of competition.
- As our teams were ramping up for more intense practices, many of our medical staffs did not think the interventions we had planned would be adequate to decrease the potential spread even with very regular testing.
- As the general student body comes back to campus, spread to student-athletes could reintroduce infection into our athletics community.
- There is simply too much we do not know about the virus, recovery from infection, and longer-term effects. While the data on cardiomyopathy is preliminary and incomplete, the uncertain risk was unacceptable at this time.
- Concerns surrounding contact tracing still exist, including the inability to social distance in contact sports pursuant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. While risk mitigation processes (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, proper hygiene, etc.) can be implemented across campus for the student body population, it became clear those processes could not be fully implemented in contact sports.
- With the start of full-contact practices and competitions, it became increasingly clear that contact tracing and quarantining would risk frequent and significant disruptions to the practice and competition calendar.
- Accurate and widely available rapid testing may help mitigate those concerns, but access to accurate tests is currently limited.
- Significant concerns also exist regarding the testing supply chain, generally, for many of our institutions.
In addition to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 also put a halt to its plans to play football this fall and hopes to continue play with a spring season in 2021. Meanwhile, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have all announced plans to play in the fall and have released schedules set to begin on various dates in September.