Sept. 16, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Big Ten will kick off its football season the weekend of Oct. 24 after the league’s presidents and chancellors unanimously voted to resume competition, the conference announced Wednesday morning.
Each team will attempt to play eight games in eight weeks before the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 19, according to a news release. That date will also feature an extra cross-division game for each school, with seeded teams in each division squaring off.
The Big Ten would complete its season before the Dec. 20 Selection Day for the College Football Playoff.
The Pac-12, which includes the University of Utah Utes, has not announced plans for when it might kick off, but sources said mid-to-late November would be the earliest. The Pac-12 postponed its fall football season Aug. 11.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement Wednesday: “At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice. We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition.”
The Big Ten initially postponed its fall sports seasons on Aug. 11, the same day as the Pac-12, because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 to postpone, with only Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa electing to proceed, sources said. League bylaws required at least 60% of presidents and chancellors to approve a return of the fall season.
The Big Ten’s daily rapid testing program will begin Sept. 30 on all 14 campuses, the news release said. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test. Each Big Ten team will designate a chief infection officer to report data about testing to the league, which will make decisions about practice and competition based on team positivity rate and population positivity rate.
Football players who test positive for COVID-19 must wait at least 21 days to return to competition, as they will undergo “comprehensive cardiac testing” before being cleared by a cardiologist designated by each university primarily for that purpose.
The Big Ten will use a color-coded system — green, orange and red — for both team positivity rates and population positivity rates.
If the team’s positivity rate exceeds 5% or the population’s positivity rate exceeds 7.5%, the team must pause practice and competition for at least seven days. If the team’s positive rate is between 2% and 5% or the population’s positivity rate is between 3.5% and 7.5%, the team “must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention,”officials said.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.