The Big Ten conference is planning to restart its fall football season in October, a win for hundreds of thousands of athletes, parents, and fans who pressured the conference to play.
The conference announced on Wednesday that the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to relaunch the 2020 fall football season on the weekend of Oct. 23-24. The announcement comes after the first weekend of college football games for those conferences that decided against canceling the season.
“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” Dr. Jim Borchers, the head team physician for Ohio State University, said in a statement. “The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”
The conference will require daily testing of athletes and other measures to protect against the coronavirus.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who launched a petition for the Big Ten to reverse its decision to cancel the fall 2020 season, celebrated the news on Twitter with a simple message: “Let’s goooooo!!!”
Let’s goooooo!!! https://t.co/9OVkhXXkWg
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) September 16, 2020
Fields and other athletes led a social media campaign to allow college football to take place in the fall. Fields’ petition to the Big Ten to restart the season attracted over 300,000 signatures. Eight University of Nebraska football players filed a lawsuit against the conference over its decision, though the suit was brought on procedural grounds and quickly rectified.
“We want to play. We believe that safety protocols have been established and can be maintained to mitigate concerns of exposure to Covid 19. We believe that we should have the right to make decisions about what is best for our health and our future. Don’t let our hard work and sacrifice be in vain. #LetUsPlay!” Fields’s petition said.
Parents of numerous Big Ten athletes pushed the conference for a fuller explanation of its decision to cancel. University of Michigan cardiologist Dr. Venk Murthy said the Big Ten’s original decision was based off a study with “rampant abnormalities among normal controls” and statistics “that make no sense.”
President Trump also called on the Big Ten to reverse course and find a way to play in the fall in 2020. He tweeted out the “great news” after the Big Ten’s Wednesday morning announcement.
“Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!” Trump said.
Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2020