Big Ten announces postponement of all fall sports

The Big Ten became another major domino to fall in the halting of Division I college sports nationwide Tuesday, calling off its fall contests because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement made good on speculation that began to surface over the weekend, when it was reported that Big Ten presidents were leaning toward shutting down fall sports. Shortly after the Big Ten’s announcement, the Pac-12 quickly followed suit, calling off all athletic contests for the remainder of 2020.

These decisions have not come without acrimony. Football players across the country pushed on social media for the fall season to continue once word of the Big Ten’s intentions leaked out. Namely, Penn State coach James Franklin and Nebraska’s Scott Frost were outspoken in their desire to see the season delayed rather than indefinitely postponed.

But that did not move Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, who said uncertainty about the virus led the conference to shutter fall sports competitions just six days after a 10-game Big Ten football slate was announced.

“We always have a plan. We wanted to plan ahead, plan for a possible season. Made it very clear the season might not actually come to fruition,” Warren said on Big Ten Network. “We felt it was important to plan, to organize a schedule, that if we were fortunate to play fall sports, especially football, we would have a schedule in place.

“But six days is six days, and I made it very clear also, this was a day-to-day situation.”

Three days earlier, the Mid-American Conference, which includes in-state neighbor Ball State, called off its fall sports competitions, aiming to play football in the spring. Two Power 5 conferences have now followed suit, and the Big Ten says spring competition for fall sports is on the table.

How traditional winter and spring sports move forward, namely basketball, will also have to be looked at.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Warren said in a news release. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

Tuesday’s decision postpones all regular season and championship events for men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.

In a statement, IU athletic director Scott Dolson said he was “heartbroken” by the development.

“As a lifelong Hoosier and IU sports fan I am disappointed that we won’t be able to enjoy seeing our teams compete, but I am most devastated for our students,” Dolson said. “They invest an enormous amount of time, effort, and energy for the opportunity to represent IU on the field. But as difficult as it is to absorb, I am confident it is the right decision. “Throughout this process, the Big Ten Conference has made the health and safety of our students, staffs, and communities the No. 1 concern and priority. Today, our medical experts believe it is not currently safe to take the next step to participating in intercollegiate competitions.”

Football was of special concern, not only because it’s considered a high-risk sport for COVID-19 transmission, but because it’s also a main driver of revenues for athletic departments. In IU’s last fiscal year, the football program brought in $32.7 million of the athletic department’s $43.6 million in media rights. Basketball brought in $10.9 million.

Football added another $6.8 million in ticket revenues.

Those dollars will not come in the fall, at least. The absence of football is also devastating for IU’s program as a whole, which is coming off of an eight-win season and was poised to field one of its most talented teams in recent memory.

Both spring and fall camps were shortened by the pandemic. And before fall camp opened in August, football’s voluntary workouts were halted for two weeks in July because of a half-dozen cases of COVID-19 on the team.

IU freshman offensive lineman Brady Feeney’s bout with the virus was serious enough to warrant a brief visit to the emergency room due to breathing problems. He has since recovered, but Feeney was held out of practice as medical personnel monitored a potential aftereffect in his heart.

“My heart breaks for our players,” IU coach Tom Allen said in a statement. “I couldn’t be prouder of the commitment and focus they have demonstrated from the start of this pandemic. They put in the work to get ready for a season. I love each and every one of them, and we will continue to support them and prepare them for what the future holds.”

In his Big Ten Network interview, Warren wasn’t altogether clear about what changed from six days ago, when the Big Ten’s schedule was released. He just continued to harp on general uncertainty about the virus and its spread, saying the conference saw cases were “spiking” both nationally and in states where the Big Ten competes.

He was asked specifically by host Dave Revsine about links between COVID-19 and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart. But Warren said fears of myocarditis did not play an outsized role in the Big Ten’s decision.

“We just believe, collectively, there is too much uncertainty at this point in time in our country, and to encourage our student-athletes to participate in fall sports,” Warren said on BTN. “I take this responsibility seriously and I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure we put our student-athletes in a position to be empowered and be elevated. But it’s people first.

“Understand, also, these are not professionals. These are amateur athletes, and they deserve an ability to participate in a healthy and safe manner.”

46 comments

  1. Warren’s approach has been, from the start, clear he favored not having fall sports but he wouldn’t come out and say it in those terms. I understand making this decision worried about the worst situation but have to say I disagree with this decision. I think they could have kept the players and coaches safe while having the season without students on campus. Now no students could be the deciding factor and I will live with the decision made.

    1. This wasn’t Warren’s decision. The Presidents of the 14 universities made this call. Warren does as he’s told.

      1. Yes I know Warren can’t act on his own but can influence others. You always bring up some issue contrary to what I say while I don’t go after your post.

        1. V13, whatever influence Warren had here was negligible. He rolled out the schedule last week and was cut off at the knees a few days later. This was a decision from the President’s.

  2. It would have been sacrilegious to play college football in empty stadiums. If it’s not safe or feasible to bring fans into games/stadiums, then it should have never been thought to be feasible to have a season. Without huge forms of legalized sports gambling and the massive influence/pressures of national sports networks, what would have been the driving force to play without fans?
    There was once a day when the fans in the stands made those in charge accountable for the product. The games have become far bigger than that simple equation to be accountable to a humble origin and relationship between a present fan, a sold ticket and quality product. Money, massive amounts of money, can be earned regardless of those once sacred relationships of appreciation between live performer and live spectator in a seat.
    The virus has its own calendar. It’s calendar moves day by day with those insignificant Americans which sports has abandoned and trivialized. The absence of fans was never considered a “liability.” The worst reality may be to come in putting so much effort to go forward in a fantasy land of empty arenas/stadiums. Pro sports continue today as deemed more vital than a simple belief that a passionate and healthy spectator in a seat is the only real imperative to the vitality of the product. Every game preserved and forwarded while flippantly abandoning the “heartbeat” of sports, the fan, is a far bigger repeated killer blow than anything a pandemic could ever cause.

    1. Fans would’ve attended most games. It’s false to claim otherwise. Brevity. Honesty. It’s a double threat that you should think about trying.

  3. So few words…..but so much unleashed snide and jealousy. What is your issue, dude?
    The “honesty” is already out there, Quick Draw Snidely McGraw.

    MLB and NBA going forward without fans. Honest truth.
    Hockey going forward without fans. Honest truth.
    NFL considering the same thing. Honest truth….and good luck with that. Good luck with selling any sport as more vital to continue in such disingenuous form while the rest of the country tiptoes through grocery store aisles and checkout lanes socially distanced.

    Five days ago: Penn State releases statement that going forward would mean without fans. Honest truth.

    Penn State can put over 100,000 people in Beaver Stadium for football games.

    But unless circumstances change, they won’t put any in this fall.

    Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour wrote in a letter to season ticket holders that because of restrictions in place to limit the COVID-19 pandemic, that fans would not be in the stands for any games the Nittany Lions play at home.

    “As of today, the current large group gatherings guidance from the Governor’s office limits capacity to 250 people for outside events and 25 people for inside events,” the letter read. “Therefore, under the current conditions and current state orders, our fall sports events would be conducted without fans in the general seating areas of our facilities. We continue to work with the Governor’s office to discuss, and possibly be prepared for the opportunity to have spectators at our fall Penn State sporting events.

    And good luck to the SEC if they decide to go forward. They’ll be the dumber of the dumb and dumber. A few more idiots like Trevor Lawrence and they will have politicized the pandemic to the extent of going forward with fans. It will be 1000 times more reckless and dangerous than a Tulsa rally….but I think they do understand the product doesn’t “breathe” without fans.

  4. Yep, one (perhaps two) schools said fans wouldn’t be allowed. That’s it. The rest you just made up, as has been your habit here. Brevity. Honesty. You should try them.

  5. The pandemic is making itself up. Far as I know, the season has been postponed. Nobody knows how many other governors or municipalities would have put the same orders in place once the reality of a pandemic continuing to set its own dates and course hit home. Penn State, and others would have likely followed (and followed the example of pro sports), would have been fine on going forward without fans.

    Keep lying and spinning, Snidely McGraw. That’s a pretty big hit when one of the conference’s programs with a fan base as rabid and rich in traditions as Penn State has determined a 100,000 seat stadium will be empty if football was to go forward. It’s also a precedent which was making the wheels turn regarding risk assessment and liability concerning other campuses and communities. You, Snidely McGraw, are the only one being disingenuous here.

    1. Anticipating the optics when one major football school decrees its 100,000 capacity stadium will be empty if the fall season was to go forward. How much safer are the many other towns, communities, etc once floodgates are opened?
      Yes, I was anticipating more denial from college sports if a governor or mayor didn’t put orders in place to stop fan participation. I was anticipating flippant regard for the importance of healthy and happy fans in Happy Valleys. I was anticipating more schools to act just as Penn State; still eager to go forward even if those orders would fall upon their own communities. Sanity prevailed. The damage some egomaniacs could cause by allowing even one or two mega football programs playing without fans would have been far worse than any shutdown caused by the pandemic (postponed until Spring …or even absent an entire season).

      1. Damage caused by playing without fans? Your phony altruism exposed with your own words. Yet another reason why brevity could be your friend.

  6. My position has been steady. Never believed any option to play without fans should be one considered.
    It’s not amateur sports without the secured health and participation of fans. It’s that reality that was hitting home. Penn State’s announcement five days ago was an admission that their governor wasn’t willing to create that risk for any sport.
    It doesn’t matter how secure and safe you can keep those glorious “bubbles” safer than the home of a loving parent.
    How are you going to be perceived if your imperative to go forward soon means incredible Covid spikes on your campuses and within your communities?
    Avon schools in Indianapolis already pulling back to hybrid e-learning through end of August. Pandemic sets its own calendar. Are you going to be the governor, mayor, superintendent, AD, president of a public university willing to open the floodgates, allow thousands to flood stadiums and school hallways, when the pandemic is still very fluid and spikes continue to occur?

    Fans can flood stadiums while schools and communities keep getting a hard dose of pandemic reality? Yeah…right.

  7. The correct call would have been to offer 20% ticket sales, with students being given first choice. Distancing 3 seats apart, masks, limited concessions with distancing just like any retail outlet. Limit peripheral stadium activities with bands, etc. Tickets would indicate NO LIABILITY. Play all opponents in division + 2 from other division. Any player, like now, could opt out and not lose a year of eligibility.
    When the SEC is playing in front of 90,000 on TV then my idea will sink in. Spring football cannot exist with an immediate fall follow-up. Same for the balance of fall activities.

  8. Just play virtual football on the computer with a joystick. Give scholarships to IU computer nerds and salaries to their department instructors for a Virtual Football season for all sports teams in the country. Social distancing and pretty human virus free. (Just computer viruses). Virtual Living. Let’s go.

  9. An update for anyone interested.

    Players have been given the option of continuing with voluntary workouts for the time being, but the athletic department and staff are going to be taking a step back to determine a more thorough plan for how to move forward during the next few months. New territory and a lot of shock. After the schedules were announced last week, everyone thought the season was a go. TA will say the right things and there’s an understanding that venting publicly isn’t helpful, but they’re all pissed.

    Players have been told they can go home if they want to, and some probably will, at least for awhile, since there’s no urgency to hang around. There’s already a little bit of discussion about options for the Fall, and a few guys are waiting to see what other conferences do before they make decisions. School hasn’t started so there’s a small window to do things. I think it’s possible you could see a few guys explore transferring to schools that are going to play, but they want to see who that might be.
    There are a couple of others who would’ve probably entered the draft after this year anyway, so the issue for them will be whether they want to play or just start the pre-draft training stuff now. So a few guys could definitely be moving on, and others have played their last games. You can probably guess at some names but every family will be talking with TA, and he’s already reaching out to them.

    There’s going to be an interesting dynamic involved in trying to help kids further their careers versus trying to keep the program from backsliding through early departures. One coach told me he expects they’ll start hearing from other coaches to discuss how to help kids who want to play this fall. To say this coach was down about the decision would be a huge understatement. He’s not a fan of it, to put it mildly.

    One last thing. None of the coaches think there will be a spring season. There is no support for it at all.

    1. As far as the incoming class, everyone had / has arrived, but school hasn’t started. There’s probably a chance a couple of those kids could go home, lay out a year, and then either come back or go elsewhere. Haven’t heard if anyone is contemplating that but some may want to delay the start of their eligibility clock. Either way, it’s now going to be a totally redshirted class, and that will impact recruiting. As mentioned above, they’ll need to see what this does to attrition on the other end, too.

    2. Good thing you mostly go with brevity…When you go long, it reads much like Clarion. It comes up way short. Now I know why Clarion was such a fan of Ramsey. Without the “brevity,” It feels like four quarters of dunk and dink given a pen. You should have called for a fair catch above the paper’s margin line. How to hang drywall instruction pamphlet never looked so interesting.

  10. Another HUGE (negative) cog in IU football tradition. If this or that…The season/era that could have been. IU football momentum; it will never be known how much, if any, or was IU football ready to take off as Hoeppner once said: “like a shooting rocket.” It just continues parallels IU football tradition. Though others are in the same situation…It is haunting when thinking about the tradition/history of IU football.

  11. Thank You Kevin Warren, IMO you made the right decision/right call by calling off the fall sports in the Big Ten. There is no-way of telling how much pain and suffering you might have save by making this decision. Humanity or $$$.

    1. Now do the next right thing: any coach who does any meaningful act to play football this fall, in any way shape or form, must be immediately fired without pay and not allowed to coach in the B1G for two years! The Presidents of OSU and NE need to lead this move!

      1. Agree…See Michael Wilbon. Toss Nebraska out now. And give Penn State a kick to the cold showers. PSU could always replace the removed Joe Pa statue with a giant Covid-19 cell? Happy Valley: Where in misty valleys, deadly viruses and shower fungi thrive.

        The Cornhuskers’ discontent with the Big Ten incensed ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, who on Tuesday who called out Nebraska for “whining.”

        “I hope somebody on that call said to Nebraska’s representatives, even its president: Get the hell out,” Wilbon said on “Pardon The Interruption.” “If you want to turn and tuck tail after you receive $52 million of guaranteed TV money every year, then go. Go somewhere else. “What an inflated sense of self the Nebraska football program has that hasn’t done a damn thing in like a decade or more. They’ve done nothing. … I hope somebody said get out.”

        https://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/for-petes-sake/article244896122.html

  12. Multiple sources have come out even against a spring football season. To expect these young men to play close to 24 games in less than a 12 month period would be grossly irresponsible. First, those with legitimate NFL prospects won’t be playing. Moore for Purdue comes to mind as he more than likely would be a top 10 pick. Also, if all the reports about concussions and safety for the player first is the top priority, then asking these kids to play both spring and fall next year is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of.

    1. The spring talk is a sham. TA has already told players it’s not happening. Coaches talk to each other. None of them want it. They’ll be happy with spring practice, which they hope can be expanded somewhat.

  13. I find it somewhat odd, yet humorous, that the most infected county in the state is Marion…allowing high school football with a limit of 250 fans. Universities (many medically reknown) of the BIG 10 aren’t able to deal with this more proactively. Players are in a ‘bubble’…tested frequently etc. If grocery, clothing, hardware and other retail are able to function for the public,…..the BIG 10 retreats even though these are outdoor activities. Pretty weak.

    1. Each of the conference schools, save Northwestern, are getting ready to bring back tens of thousands of students who will live, eat, shower, “groom”, study, and socialize together in dense settings. And they’ll do all of that in close proximity to professors and workers of differing ages and comorbidities, making community spread far more likely. If they were really concerned about health, that wouldn’t be happening.

      1. All universities should be consulting with UNC to perfect the details of instituting a full array of ghost classes during the pandemic.

  14. You might ask one of the all time Hoosier greats what he thinks about that. Bit I’m sure you think things like that are isolated.

  15. I wouldn’t be surprised. “Ghost Choking” wasn’t just the forte of Tom Crean.

    But if you are speaking of Knight and the value of an IU education among his players, I do believe most could read considerably higher than the 4th grade level (the sort of sh__ show UNC was protecting/perpetuating).

    But back to the topic of the day: Place your outrage of your upside down sports world where it belongs…(as in the lap of the Deceiver in Chief). Remember when he marched out onto the field as if he were General Patton at last year’s national championship?
    Wow….was that an omen of things to come for college football, or what? Somebody should have been playing ‘taps’…or ‘retreat.’

    1. No, not Knight. But I’m unsurprised by your willingness to cast blame. It’s your “go to” move.

      1. You are the one casting blame…and constantly casting apology on corruption at places like UNC.
        Quit being cowardly and state the name of who you place your inferences. Everyone already knows Knight wasn’t a total saint (see Jay Edwards). The refreshing thing, is that he was honest piss and vinegar instead of acting like the frauds who have permeated our programs over recent times. He wasn’t acting like he came here to walk on the Jordan River…..”because it’s Indiana.”

        Do you tell all your friends you post here as ‘Bear Down.’ Is this your ring when your brag of all the snide you throw my way? Afraid to do more than infer because you have such a stellar reputation of snide on Scoop to protect. You are a joke…and I’ve farted out gas more worthy than your hot air.

          1. You couldn’t fit your nerve in my pinky. Let’s all act like it takes “nerve” to take swipes behind curtains. I have a feeling your nerve is tied to a relationship with HT. Anyone else that used to offer nothing but insult and snide (e.g. Laffy) from Scoop’s past received a fast banning.
            But do stick to brevity. And don’t forget the delusions of grandeur and condescension as that extra required wimpy weak sauce always begging for a “LOL.”
            Gotta go with your talents.
            Your examples of “lengthiness” above could sub in for a Calm app.

  16. Now you see how it works, Quick Draw? That sort of passion brings the fans to the stands. They want long spiraling poetic bombs ….They want natural ability. They want some trickery and flea-flickers… and some creative offense. They want some risk taking on 4th down. and moderation inches(that one is for you, Price). Dunk and dink is never going to pay the bills. They don’t come to Scoop to read spit on drywall installation pamphlets.

    1. I definitely struck a nerve or two, which is telling. Your obsession with posting wildly uninformed stream of conscience musings here is always interesting, though rarely accurate or truthful. You’ve shown that with your tortured Crean and Glass commentary, and it’s on full exhibition with regard to the details relating to the current football situation.

      But please rant on. The comic relief is well worth it.

  17. Oh, and the IU connection of which you were unaware was that Sean May was an AAS major at UNC. Do you think Scott knew of the widespread fraud you continue to reference?

    1. Can’t win them all…Sometimes offspring is more challenged. I can’t hold a grudge against a father who knew his son couldn’t cut the mustard at IU.
      But I think that decision went deeper than the easy academic pass…
      I seem to recall an article which went into some bitter feeling about something (was it because of the firing of Knight?).
      Sean May would have gotten full accommodations (wink wink) at IU which were never afforded a Kelvin flunky. He could have majored in Weed and been embraced.

  18. You’re playing to an audience who is easy to invite to your table of snide.

    Crean is gone while going out as looking like a bigger buffoon than he arrived with his witch hunting to secure validation. His ineptitude on big stages and his total deficiency in X’s and O’s is his legacy. Cue cards is the final comedic act an AD in collusion with him was willing to layer on more clown makeup for 30 million and 10 years of service. Odd how you can identify comedy now.
    Glass departs as a complete failure at bringing our two largest programs at IU Athletics into any amount of relevancy. A pandemic will cost us less in lost opportunity, dollars and reputation. If that’s what you still blindly support.
    You are the clown. Conference Midwest Elite are really all the facts you need. The so-called improvements in football are fools gold for complete mismanagement at the hands of pious charlatans. who had no business at the forefront of major college athletics. Crean made a safe landing at a football school. Glass should try his hand at serving as president for Barnum & Bailey Clown Training College.

Comments are closed.