Following a saga that lasted more than a month, Big Ten football is scheduled to be back in 2020. The league announced Wednesday that it will return to play on the weekend of Oct. 24. The announcement came after the league initially moved to cancel the fall football season on Aug. 11.
In the days and weeks after the August decision, the Big Ten came under criticism from its coaches, players, parents of players and fans yearning for a fall football season as three of the other four Power Five conferences forged ahead. Ultimately, a series of meetings with league presidents, chancellors and various subcommittees over the weekend of Sept. 12-13 helped the league chart a path back to the field.
Sunday's meeting featured an emphasis on medical protocols and what's changed since the league initially decided to cancel the fall sports season on Aug. 11. The league plans to conduct daily COVID-19 testing this season. Here is a review of some of the key events that transpired after the league's decision to cancel the fall season.
- When/why did the Big Ten cancel fall sports?: The Big Ten canceled fall sports on Aug. 11 with hopes of playing them in the spring. Commissioner Kevin Warren said at the time that "it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall." The Pac-12 made a similar decision soon after.
- Why do Big Ten officials think it's unsafe while others play?: Concerns over the potential for myocarditis in the hearts of athletes who've had COVID-19 appear to be a hurdle in the league's return to play. Research from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center published Sept. 11 by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that four of 26 athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 had findings "consistent with myocarditis." The study also found another eight athletes with imaging results that suggested "prior myocardial injury."
- Who actually made the decision?: It was unveiled that the league's presidents voted to cancel the fall season. But that assertion came under scrutiny in the days following the league's decision. Penn State president Sandy Barbour said, "It's unclear whether there was ever a vote or not." Minnesota president Joan Gabel referred to the decision as a "deliberative process where we came to a decision together." Ultimately, documents revealed that the league presidents voted 11-3 in favor of canceling the season.
- Who was in favor of continuing with the season?: Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio Sate voted to play in the fall, according to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd. But the vote to cancel the fall season needed just a 60% majority -- or nine votes -- in order to pass.
- Warren's letter: Warren released a letter on Aug. 19 -- 11 days after the season's cancelation -- stating 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."
- Parents protest: Several parents of players from the league protested outside the league's office in the Chicago suburbs on Aug. 21.
- Neutral sites: On Aug. 26 it was revealed that the league had begun inquiring about holding games for a potential winter season in multiple domed stadiums throughout the region.
- Nebraska lawsuit: Eight Nebraska players filed a lawsuit against the league on Aug. 27 in hopes of forcing the conference to reverse its decision to cancel the season.
- Thanksgiving start?: Word leaked on Aug. 28 that a Thanksgiving start is among the dates under consideration for the Big Ten football season after it was initially expected that play wouldn't begin until 2021.
- Trump call: Warren spoke to Donald Trump on Sept. 1. Trump posted the following message to Twitter after the conversation: "Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football. Would be good (great!) for everyone - Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!"
- Michigan march: and their parents on Sept. 5 in protest of the postponed season. "We want to play as soon as we possibly can," he said.
- Day blasts league: Grandstanding from Harbaugh is to be expected. But Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who has just one full season of head coaching experience, joined the fray on Sept. 10. He posted a message to social media saying that "the communication of information from the Big Ten following the decision has been disappointing and often unclear." However, he also noted that "we still have an opportunity to give our young men what they have worked so hard for: A chance to safely compete for a national championship this fall."