CHICAGO — The Big Ten made if official Tuesday: There will be no fall sports for the 14 conference schools this fall.
That includes football at Indiana University and Purdue. And it means there will be no Big Ten Football Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in December.
The league said ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic were behind the decision. The conference said it will continue to evaluate a number of options for the fall sports, including playing games in the spring.
Reaction came quickly from Bloomington and West Lafayette. Purdue Athletic Director Mike Bobinski said he was "incredibly disappointed and frustrated" but said the decision was made with the "right intentions" to protect the health and safety of athletes, coaches and staff.
Boilermaker Head Football Coach Jeff Brohn hopes there can be games in the spring. "Between now and when we start in the spring, medical advancements that we can make and the education we can learn along the way," he said. "The possible ability to get a vaccine before then. The ability to watch the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA, and see how those teams react. I think there could be a lot of improvement to help us get to that point."
“I am heartbroken by today’s news of the postponement of the Big Ten fall sports schedule," said IU Athletic Director Scott Dolson. "As a lifelong Hoosier and IU sports fan I am disappointed that we won’t be able to enjoy seeing our teams compete, but I am most devastated for our students. They invest an enormous amount of time, effort, and energy for the opportunity to represent IU on the field. But as difficult as it is to absorb, I am confident it is the right decision."
In making its decision, which was based on multiple factors, the conference said it relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.
“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."
The fall sports included in Tuesday's announcement are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
“We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in shaping the future of the talented young women and men who compete in the Big Ten Conference," said Commissioner Warren. "Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult."
"While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point."
No decisions have been made yet on winter sports, including basketball.