Big Ten to limit football, fall sports to conference only games due to coronavirus pandemic

The Big Ten Conference won't play nonconference games in football or other sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic

Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6) scores a touchdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first ha
Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6) scores a touchdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first half at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 29, 2019. Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Conference announced Thurday it will not play nonconference games in football or several other sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league cited medical advice in reaching its decision, the biggest yet by a power conference, and added ominously that the plan would be applied only “if the conference is able to participate in fall sports.”

Besides football, the sports affected include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

“By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

Summer athletic activities will remain voluntary in sports such as football. The Big Ten said its member schools will honor scholarships of athletes who choose not to compete in the upcoming academic year because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The announcement came a day after the Ivy League Conference canceled sporting events until at least January.

The Big Ten said it would release detailed schedules at a later date and continue to evaluate other sports.

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“As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate,” the league said.

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