One day after the Big 10 and Pac-12 decided to cancel fall football entirely, the Big 12 is announcing that it will hold steady and play the season as planned.
Last week the league, which only has ten teams, said it would play a nine-game conference schedule while allowing one non-conference opponent. The official schedule had not been released.
In today’s decision, the Board of Directors said this, in part, via official statement:
“The Board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions” commented Board of Directors Chairman and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini. “To that end the Board has consistently relied on the advice and counsel of top medical experts to determine the viability of available options. Our student-athletes want to compete, and it is the Board’s collective opinion that sports can be conducted safely and in concert with the best interests of their well-being. We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID 19 as we learn more about the virus. If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course.”
Big 12 members have committed to enhanced COVID-19 testing that includes three tests per week in “high contact” sports, like Football, Volleyball and Soccer. Additionally, return to play protocols after positive occurrences will include an EKG, troponin blood test, echocardiogram, and cardiac MRI. Non-conference football opponents must also adhere to COVID-19 testing protocols that conform to Big 12 standards during the week leading up to competition.
In moving forward with planning for the upcoming fall sports season the Conference is also releasing its revised 2020 conference football schedule. The “9+1” scheduling model features a September 26 start date for Conference play. Each team will have a minimum of two bye dates and potentially a third bye late in the season. The Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game is tentatively scheduled for December 12. All non-conference games must be completed before September 26 and the match-ups will be announced by each individual conference member. Stadium capacities will be determined by each member institution in accordance with local and/or state health ordinances, and working with government officials.”
A September 26th start date for conference play gives the league extra time to solidify health and safety protocols. And if the non-conference scheduling doesn’t work, they could simply just play a nine-game, conference-only schedule and do the Big 12 title game down there at Jerry World.
My prediction yesterday was that the Pac-12 would cancel, the Big 12 would play, and the SEC and ACC would follow suit. We’re still awaiting official word from the latter two conferences, plus the American Athletic, Conference USA, and Sunbelt.
It will also be very interesting to see if the transfer portal becomes clogged with players looking to leave schools that won’t be playing football this fall.