Big Ten, Pac-12 cancel fall football season

The first shoe dropped on major college football Tuesday when the Big Ten became the first of the Power 5 conferences to postpone all fall sports due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

It didn’t take long for the second shoe to drop when the Pac-12 joined the Big Ten a couple hours later in announcing that it was canceling the fall football season, too, leaving the Big 12, SEC and ACC to decide if they will follow.

The presidents of the Big Ten schools had been discussing the possibility of moving the football season from the fall to spring 2021 in hopes that the nation will have a better handle on the coronavirus that has killed over 150,000 in the United States since the outbreak began last winter. The presidents voted Tuesday morning to postpone college football with the season set to begin in a few weeks.

“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,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “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.”

The Mid-American became the first of the top-level conferences to decide to call off having any fall sports last week and was joined by the Mountain West earlier this week.

The SWAC – the home conference for Texas Southern and Prairie View – announced last month that it would postpone its fall sports schedule until spring.

There has been a great deal of angst of these decisions because of the popularity of college football and because at most of the schools, football pays the bills for the athletic department and the other non-revenue sports.

The Big Ten has received push back from everyone from the President of the United States to even some of its own football coaches such as Penn State’s James Franklin, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Nebraska’s Scott Frost and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.

But the Power 5 conferences have been taking steps for weeks in hopes of making the season safe for the student athletes. Most leagues had announced they would play a conference-only schedule, leaving some of the smaller conference schools scrambling to fill holes in their schedules.