Big Ten postpones Fall 2020 sports season

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Mark Capapas

Lovie Smith answering questions at the individual podiums at the Hilton on Michigan Ave at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday/

By Gabby Hajduk, Sports Editor

New reports via Twitter have now come out stating the Big Ten has decided to postpone the 2020 Fall college football season due to growing COVID-19 concerns. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports was one of the first people to report the postponement. The Detroit Free Press initially reported on Monday that the Big Ten presidents had voted to cancel the season, however, that report was never confirmed.

Just earlier this morning the Illinois football team completed their fifth day of training camp and head coach Lovie Smith said in a Zoom press conference he and the Illini were prepared to play this fall. According to the new reports, the league will attempt to play in the spring, as many mid-major leagues have already announced.

Less than 30 minutes of the report, Illinois athletics, and the Big Ten have confirmed the postponement of all sports through a press release. For Illinois, this affects football, volleyball, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country.

“The discussions that led to the decision to postpone fall sports were as frank and honest as they were difficult,” Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones said in the release. “We recognize the intense disappointment this will bring to our student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff and fans. But as important as collegiate athletic competition is to the Big Ten university experience, the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty and campus community must be our priority. There are just too many unknowns with COVID-19 today and the future continues to be just as unclear as it was months ago. We feel this decision offers the best way to maximize the safety of everyone involved. But that doesn’t make it any easier to hear for any of us who love sports.”

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman also made a statement in the release.

“My heart hurts for our student-athletes and coaches,” Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said. “Over these last months, countless people, including our student-athletes, coaches, sports medicine professionals, and so many other staff members have worked tirelessly to give our teams the best chance to compete this fall. Our people have done everything we have asked of them, which makes today’s decision so disappointing. The bar set here at the University of Illinois for testing and the return-to-play protocol is second-to-none, and I am proud of our progress.

“Unfortunately, despite best efforts on our campus and across the conference, the remaining unknowns and uncertainties stemming from COVID-19 ultimately proved insurmountable,” Whitman continued. “The health and safety of our student-athletes, staff, and our community must drive our decisions. We will support our student-athletes as they deal with the emotions stemming from today’s decision. We continue to work with the Big Ten on future plans as we move forward with returning our student-athletes to classes and training.”

@gabby_h11

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