(WTNH/AP) — The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday it will not play non-conference games in football and several other sports this fall, the most dramatic move yet by a power conference because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Big 10 conference cited medical advice in making its decision and added ominously that the plan would be applied only “if the conference is able to participate in fall sports.”
“As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate,” the league said.
The announcement came a day after the Ivy League called off fall sports and Stanford announced it was cutting 11 varsity sports as it struggles with the financial impact the virus outbreak is having on its budget.
There was no immediate reaction from the other big conferences, though the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 have all indicated they intend to play fall sports, anchored by football, by far the biggest moneymaker.
The Big Ten said it would release detailed schedules later and continue to evaluate other sports. The league said its schools will honor scholarships for athletes who choose not to compete in the upcoming academic year because of concerns about the coronavirus.
Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson said he and his Big Ten colleagues “know that there remain many questions that still need to be answered, and we will work toward finding those answers in the coming weeks.”