Two of the five conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, have released information on Tuesday that they won’t be returning for the fall season. Many questions remain unanswered as to whether individual teams can compete and whether the other conferences will now proceed with their regular seasons.
Biggest College Conferences Cancel Football Seasons
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have called off their football seasons, representatives said on Tuesday, citing growing COVID-19 concerns. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are the two largest college conferences, leaving only three conferences that may or may not hold seasons this year.
When COVID-19 struck in February, collegiate sporting bodies took the threat very seriously, so much that the NCAA basketball tournament, traditionally known as March Madness, had to be cancelled seconds before the first whistle sounded off.
With the pandemic still raging and infecting more people, the schools are cut off from the lifeline that is collegiate sports, which generates billions of dollars annually. Many have called for the creation of conditions that would allow collegiate athletes to compete, similar to the NBA bubble, but conferences executives have been adamant in their decision to pull out of the competition, citing the health and safety of athletes as a top priority.
Both Pac-12 and the Big Ten released their announcements within an hour of each other. Pac-12 is suspending all competitions until January 1, 2021 including football and basketball. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott acknowledged that it wasn’t an easy decision to make in the first place. He had this to say:
“This was an extremely difficult and painful decision that we know will have important impacts on our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and our fans. We know nothing will ease that.”
Other Conferences Seem to Be Sticking to the Schedule
With Pac-12 and Big Ten pulling the plug, the Big 12, Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conferences seem to be moving forward and intend to restart their football college season as planned. Each conference is free to decide whether it wants to proceed with a season or postpone it to coincide with the rest.
While many people have been disappointed with Big Ten’s decision, not everyone was caught by surprise. The conference first trimmed basketball games out of the season and introduced a reduced football schedule, but fans, athletes and coaches could feel what was coming next.
Speaking about the decision, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren reiterated what Pac-12 had said. He emphasized on the mental and physical health as well as welfare of student-athletes. Every decision the conference makes is designed to only take care of this.
“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. “
One thing that has not been clarified is whether all teams must comply with the decision of the conferences. During an interview for the Big Ten Network, Warren was asked if all coaches and athletes will have to comply with the ruling or some can be allowed to play on their own risk. Warren didn’t comment.