AMES — The Big 12 board of directors, the university presidents and chancellors, the athletics directors, two players from each football team and a slew of doctors and scientists met for more than two hours on Tuesday evening to discuss if fall sports could play in the fall.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Wednesday during a news conference call that it was a free-flowing discussion and he hardly had to say a word.
The decision they came to was to move forward with a season as they previously planned.
“Our medical professionals told us to go forward, move slowly, make small adjustments and constantly be vigilant with changes in the environment,” Bowlsby said. “That’s who we’re listening to. If they tell us otherwise, we’ll listen to that as well.”
New Iowa State, Big 12 schedules released
The Big 12 released its schedule following the decision. The season will begin with a nonconference game that must be completed before Sept. 26. The conference season will begin Sept. 26.
Iowa State’s season begins by hosting Louisiana on Sept. 12, it announced Wednesday after Bowlsby’s teleconference.
Here is Iowa State’s complete schedule:
Sept. 12 — Louisiana
Sept. 26 — at TCU
Oct. 3 — Oklahoma
Oct. 10 — Texas Tech
Oct. 24 — at Oklahoma State
Oct. 31 — at Kansas
Nov. 7 — Baylor
Nov. 21 — Kansas State
Nov. 28 — at Texas
Dec. 5 — West Virginia
The Cyclones’ conference season begins with a trip to Fort Worth, Texas, to play TCU. Iowa State’s season ends, if everything works out, by hosting West Virginia on Dec. 5. The Big 12 championship game is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12, but Bowlsby said that could be flexible if they need it to be.
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Louisiana will have to adhere to Big 12 standards of testing and reporting at least one week in advance of the game.
Big 12 testing protocols further clarified
The Big 12’s new standards set forth on Wednesday are:
• Every player must be tested for the coronavirus three times a week — Sunday, Wednesday and Friday
• If a player does test positive, they can’t return until they have taken an EKG, cardiac MRI, troponin blood test and an echocardiogram to ensure COVID-19 didn’t make a lasting impact on their bodies like myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart.
“That’s the standard that’s required and that the cardiologists mandated,” Bowlsby said. “For some student athletes, a return to participation is not going to be possible but we’ll find that out before they go back to any sort of strenuous exercise.”
Bowlsby is confident a season can happen safely.
“The Board heard from doctors that have advised us over the past months and weeks,” Bowlsby said. “We have also assembled, on weekly basis, doctors, researchers and scientists from each of the A5 conferences. It’s a star-studded group with some of the foremost people in regards to infectious diseases in the entire world. We feel we’ve gotten good advice.”
Bowlsby cited doctors such as Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease expert from Duke Health, and Chris Kratochivil, who is the co-Principal Investigator for the National Center of Health Security and Biopreparedness from the Nebraska Medical Center.
“(Tuesday) night, we had a team from the University of Kansas that was very helpful and helped the board think through some of the issues,” Bowlsby said. “We also had someone from the Mayo Clinic that works in cardiology that provided some very helpful information. And then obviously the conversation with the student athletes was very helpful as they provided insights that we definitely need.”
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The insights the athletes provided ranged from voicing their opinions about wanting to play safely, to making sure the NCAA had a plan as far as eligibility is concerned if the season is cut short.
“If anybody around you says they can accurately forecast what’s going to happen with the virus, they’re delusional,” Bowlsby said. “Even the best scientific minds are unable to forecast with precision. Having acknowledged that, I feel good about where we’re at simply because we have good practices in place.”
‘This is an ever-evolving environment'
Every school in the Big 12 has had at least one positive COVID-19 test. Whether it’s Iowa State, where just a handful, or a place like Kansas State where a 14-person outbreak happened, schools have had their systems tested.
Those tests give Bowlsby confidence.
“We had a number of various sized outbreaks when student athletes returned to campus,” Bowlsby said. “Now, we have several teams that haven’t had a positive test in weeks. Within the athletic facilities, we can do a really good job.”
So for now, it’s full steam ahead.
Slowly. With one foot a centimeter from the brake pedal and a finger resting on the eject button.
Just in case.
“If we get to a place where the doctors and scientists tell us, ‘You have two wheels off the track and you’re headed for a train wreck,’ we will pivot that day,” Bowlsby said. “If it’s during camp, it’s during camp, if it’s during October, it’s during October, if it’s a week before our championship game, that’s what it is. Making adjustments on the fly is going to be a part of this.
“We plan to do what we’ve always done, move forward slowly and on the advice of doctors and evaluate what we’re doing, making small corrections. This is an ever-evolving environment — what we thought was golden 60 days ago is garbage today. We will find ourselves with bumpy spots in the fall, there isn’t any doubt about that but I think we’re very well prepared to deal with those things.
“I feel good about the decision going forward, the board feels good about it and most importantly we have clarity for our coaches and student athletes. There’s a difference between clarity and certainty. I don’t think we can have certainty in this environment but we have been able to get some clarity.”