Warren expounds on why the B1G halted fall sports

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren expounded on what led to last week’s postponement of fall sports in an open letter released Wednesday, noting more specific concerns about member institutions’ ability to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Among those, Warren cited concerns from medical staffs that even a planned twice-a-week testing regimen for high-risk sports like football couldn’t adequately control the spread of the virus.

“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,” Warren wrote.

Warren also cited concerns about the supply chain for testing, as well as the ability of institutions to adequately test and contact trace in the event of an outbreak. Because of the large number of athletes who could theoretically be quarantined in close-contact sports, there were worries of “significant disruptions to the practice and competition calendar.”

The NCAA has mandated that high-risk sports such as football test athletes twice per week, including within three days of competition. If an athlete tests positive, they are removed from competition for at least 10 days. Anyone deemed in close contact with that person would have to isolate for 14 days.

“We understand the disappointment and questions surrounding the timing of our decision to postpone fall sports, especially in light of releasing a football schedule only six days prior to that decision,” Warren wrote. “From the beginning, we consistently communicated our commitment to cautiously proceed one day at a time with the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes at the center of our decision-making process.

“That is why we took simultaneous paths in releasing the football schedule, while also diligently monitoring the spread of the virus, testing, and medical concerns as student-athletes were transitioning to full-contact practice.”

Despite blowback from many Big Ten football players and their parents, which included calls for more transparency about the decision-making process, Warren noted the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten voted “overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports” and the issue “will not be revisited.”

Last Tuesday, the Big Ten and Pac-12 became the first Power 5 conferences to shut down fall sports, while the Big 12, SEC, and ACC continue to move forward. At the time of the decision, Warren harped on the role uncertainty played in the Big Ten’s choice, but he failed to elaborate much beyond that.

In recent weeks, there have been questions about the role potential heart issues linked to COVID-19 — in particular, myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle — may have played in the Big Ten’s decision. There has also been growing criticism of decision-makers relying on a recent myocarditis study in the Journal of American Medical Association, which found heart abnormalities in 78 percent of participants, because the data does not focus on younger people.

Last week, NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said he knew of about a dozen cases of myocarditis in NCAA student-athletes.

“There is simply too much we do not know about the virus, recovery from infection, and longer-term effects,” Warren wrote. “While the data on cardiomyopathy is preliminary and incomplete, the uncertain risk was unacceptable at this time.”

Warren added that the availability of rapid testing equipment could mitigate concerns but that the supply of such tests is limited currently. He also emphasized that the financial implications of not having a fall season, especially football, were not part of the decision-making process “as the postponement will have enormous adverse financial implications.”

Warren said a “Return to Competition Task Force” is working on a plan for fall sports to resume “as soon as possible,” and potential winter or spring models will take into consideration how many football games can “reasonably be played” in a calendar year. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm recently released a proposal for an eight-game spring season followed by a 10-game slate in the fall of 2021.

“We understand the passion of the many student-athletes and their families who were disappointed by the decision,” Warren wrote, “but also know there are many who have a great deal of concern and anxiety regarding the pandemic.”

8 comments

  1. I noticed he said they postponed the season but it came out that the season was cancelled for the fall. Is he giving the conference wiggle room for the fall season or was it just a poorly worded statement. I have no faith that the attitudes will change enough to have a fall season because as long as the fear is people getting the virus there is no real way to stop the spread. Teams can do enough to keep from getting the virus being verified by testing but society will not stop the spread until the virus burns through just like it has in hard hit areas and now not many cases in those areas. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a second round of infections but for now be more concerned about hospitalizations and deaths.

    It is just a shame that the B1G didn’t come out and say there would be a delay based on conditions instead of cancelling the fall season. Basketball has to be even more in question based on the danger of enclosed spaces and this virus.

  2. This guy begins his tenure with a mistake that will haunt him and the conference forever. An 8 game televised season with no fans would have far better. Even Penske is running the 500 with 300,000 empty seats.

  3. OSU is working behind the scenes in order to get 5 more BIG schools to participate in a 10 game season. I hope they’re successful and IU is one of them.
    Count on Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and PSU. Only 2 more needed. Stay tuned.
    My guess, at least 8 teams would sign up.

  4. Economically Speaking: Regardless, of a football season or not, all the difference people going back to work or not, the extent society being shut down or not and social unrest including crime and rioting eventually the economy will answer Societal Questions whether society answers its own questions or not.

    Shut down decisions about schools K through college, businesses, sports etc are all said to be because of coronavirus and possibly political reasons.
    Does social unrest, and rioting also impact decisions by societal leaders regarding shut downs that are being made??? You never here that being said but I observe it does impact decisions especially by political leaders who collaborate with others in decision making and leadership roles.

  5. Looking ahead next year and the next. When? What? How long the money invested and generated comes to a halt? When does scholarship money evaporate? Coaching money/salaries run its course? Operating capital gone? No money to pay the bills? Money is not infinite. There is only so much money in an economy bucket unless it continues to be economically generated. The bucket will eventually be empty.

  6. But, t, no worries. The bucket is fine. Some coaches are giving back an astronomical 10% of one year of their multi-millions in earnings. I don’t know about you, but I would struggle mightily to accept $2,700,000 for one year when I’m guaranteed 3 million on a contract that will eventually have me exiting IU in excess of 25 million.

    Bubbles have nothing to do with ‘normalcy’ or the blessing of the fans with a daily dose of something their broken hearts (and infected hearts from Covid) simply can’t live without. And they have nothing to do with not breaking hearts of 18-21 year old athletes (where most never share any of the wealth of amateur sports). The sole purpose is to keep the insane earnings “normal.” Keep it all “normal” while millions face final paychecks, business closures and evictions. Keep it all “normal” while stopping stimulus packages for those on the edge of being destitute because an election is nearing.

    And if anyone is looking for “deep states” or conspiracies, they need look no further than a artificially propped up stock market when such vast numbers in society (Americans and worldwide) are suffering and facing life on streets.
    The truly impenetrable and unscalable “wall” in this country was built for corporate socialism and keeping all wealth at the top (even in one of the most crippling health and economic threats in our country’s history). It’s called the wall of ‘Wall Street.’ Gains and gains …!0%…20%….30%. Doubled money and tripled money and quadrupled monopoly money turned into cold meaningless cash of cashed in parachute packages and hoarded stock option packages for the top echelon of boardrooms; those who had the vasts disposable incomes and tax loopholes to simply compound earnings and compound personal wealth in the face of pandemics and collapsing economic diversity facing towns and cities usurped their vibrancy, safety and prosperity. So many wastelands in the country while the top behind the ‘Wall’ never stops earning; a cesspool of rigged privilege forever raping capitalism with a profound absence of goodwill toward fellow man or society. A constant failing to share in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or to “share” in any collective effort to lift the hearts of the forgotten (many left in the quicksand of their towers, empires and billion dollar industries).

  7. Sports must go on? BS. The earnings for the 1% must go on. The boardrooms at ESPN must go on! The insane college coaching contracts and the 300 million dollar player contracts for the 1/1000 of 1% who will ever climb out of rotted American streets with rotted schools MUST GO ON!
    And to make it go on, they’ll risk giving a pandemic a better shot in the ass than a needle-full of juice cocktail given to Lance Armstrong. They’ll risk causing dangerous and unnecessary accelerated spread rates and rolling back communities into more lockdowns. They’ll even risk the lives they are entrusted to protect and care to keep the rigged system “normal.”

    I find it beyond ironic when I listened to the vitriol thrown at Kevin Wilson (I wasn’t in the locker room. Maybe fully deserved) when claims were made he exposed a rather raw side of his personality when frustrated with an injured athlete. Was it sarcasm? I have no idea. But did he ever go outside the advice of medical professionals. He didn’t send a kid onto the field with sprained ankle if it wasn’t cleared by the IU medical staff. Am I wrong in that assessment?
    Now? Now we’re trying to find reasons it’s o.k. to send a 350 lb. lineman onto the field who could be suffering from a myriad of aftereffects and side effects a virus known to have prolonged hidden complications (though very small percentage it may be) including myocarditis.

    We justifiably questioned a coach who would send an athlete onto the field too soon after a injury to a joint. But we’re find taking the percentage calculation with a bleeding or inflamed heart muscle of someone too young to legally sit in a bar and have a ‘Bloody Mary’ ? Let’s stop the charades with what those blabbering coaches who must have their football now are protecting. T

    1. But we’re find [fine] taking the percentage calculation with a bleeding or inflamed heart muscle

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