INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (WKBN) – Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren is standing by his decision to postpone fall sports.
He released a letter in response to pleas, petitions and backlash from players and coaches, as well as parents and fans.
Warren outlined the health reasons for the postponement, and added that financial considerations were not part of the decision.
“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.
As our teams were ramping up for more intense practices, many of our medical staffs did not think the interventions we had planned would be adequate to decrease the potential spread even with very regular testing.Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren
As the general student body comes back to campus, spread to student-athletes could reintroduce infection into our athletics community.
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.
With the start of full-contact practices and competitions, it became increasingly clear that contact tracing and quarantining would risk frequent and significant disruptions to the practice and competition calendar.
Accurate and widely available rapid testing may help mitigate those concerns, but access to accurate tests is currently limited.
Significant concerns also exist regarding the testing supply chain, generally, for many of our institutions.”
The Big Ten has created a Return to Competition Task Force that is working on creating a plan for the return of fall sports competition as soon as possible.
In evaluating winter/spring models, the Big Ten is exploring 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 student-athletes culminating in a Big Ten Championship.