Big Ten Presidents Consider Reviving Football Season After Weekend Meetings

How the Big Ten might get from medical meetings to a vote on a mid-fall start

If enough schools vote to play fall football, the season could start October 17, according to reports.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press that the entire council of presidents and chancellors heard from all the sub-committees of the conference within 2/2 hours of the return competition task force. A potential start date of October 17 is one option being discussed, according to sources, and likely would allow Big Ten teams to complete the regular season before the College Football Playoff selections are made.

The medical part of the presentation focused on what has changed since the conference postponed its entire fall sports season on August 11 because of COVID-19 concerns and how football could be played safely.

One of the main differences for the presidents to consider now is the new availability of at least four rapid- response antigen testing options that could allow Big Ten teams to test daily for COVID-19 and significantly decrease the amount of necessary contact tracing.

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The Big Ten could hold a vote on whether to reverse its decision to cancel the 2020 season as soon as Sunday, Yahoo's Pete Thamel reported Saturday. A group of Nebraska players have filed a lawsuit against the conference to overturn the decision not to play. Politicians have pushed the conference to play, citing the protection of players' future opportunities.

An Oct. 17 start gives conference teams a little more than a month to prepare, but UW and Maryland won't be able to use that full time. Parents of players have demonstrated on campuses and in front of the Big Ten offices outside Chicago. The Badgers shut down team activities for football and men's hockey for two weeks due to COVID-19 test results, meaning the football team can't start practice until either September 23 or 24.

It's unclear what it will mean if more than eight but fewer than 14 Big Ten schools vote to play. According to long-time sports broadcaster Dan Patrick, some Big Ten schools might not put their student-athletes on the field in 2020, no matter how the vote shakes out.

Nine college football games have already been postponed due to positive tests.

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