Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren releases open letter

Illinois+Head+Football+Coach+Lovie+Smith+sits+and+awaits+questions+during+Big+Ten+Media+Days+on+July+18%2C+2019.

Mark Capapas

Illinois Head Football Coach Lovie Smith sits and awaits questions during Big Ten Media Days on July 18, 2019.

By Gabby Hajduk, Sports Editor

The Big Ten Commissioner, Kevin Warren, released an open letter to the Big Ten community Wednesday evening regarding the decision to postpone the 2020 fall sports season. Warren has received plenty of criticism following the postponement as other Power 5 conferences still have plans to play fall sports. Warren along with Big Ten presidents have been fairly quiet since the decision was made leading to more backlash and confusion from athletes, coaches, athletic directors, parents and fans.

In the letter, Warren said the Big Ten Council of Presidents was “overwhelmingly in support” of the decision to postpone the fall season so it will not be revisited despite recent rumors indicating a possible overturn of the decision.

Warren listed the primary factors that went into the decision in the letter:

  • “Transmission rates continue to rise at an alarming rate with little indication from medical experts that our campuses, communities or country could gain control of the spread of the virus prior to the start of competition.”
  • “There is simply too much we do not know about the virus, recovery from infection, and longer-term effects. While the data on cardiomyopathy is preliminary and incomplete, the uncertain risk was unacceptable at this time.”
  • “Concerns surrounding contact tracing still exist, including the inability to social distance in contact sports pursuant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. While risk mitigation processes (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, proper hygiene, etc.) can be implemented across campus for the student body population, it became clear those processes could not be fully implemented in contact sports.”

Warren also added that financial considerations did not influence the council’s decision even though the postponement has major financial implications for not only the conference but each university and its athletic program.

The letter also stated the conference has created a Return to a Competition Task Force “consisting of members from the COP/C, sports medicine and university medical personnel, Athletic Directors, Head Coaches, Faculty Athletic Representatives and Senior Women Administrators” to come up with a plan/ideas on how to safely bring Big Ten sports back.

“In evaluating winter/spring models, we will explore many factors including the number of football games that can reasonably be played from a health perspective in a full calendar year while maintaining a premier competitive experience for our student-athletes culminating in a Big Ten Championship,” Warren said. The Big Ten Conference will continue to collect feedback from student-athletes, families, and other constituents and remains in active discussions with its television partners regarding all future plans.”

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