Pac-12 also pulls plug on fall football amid pandemic

Sports

(AP) — The Big Ten and Pac-12 won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, taking two of college football’s five power conferences out of a crumbling season amid the pandemic.

About an hour after the Big Ten’s announcement, the Pac-12 called a news conference to say its season would be postponed until the spring.

“The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.”

The Big Ten’s announcement comes six days after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only football schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

Instead, all fall sports in the Big Ten have been called off and a spring season will be explored.

The decision was monumental but not a surprise (you can watch Ohio Gov. DeWine’s reaction to the news in the video above). Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

Over the last month, conferences have been reworking schedules in the hopes of being able to buy some time and play a season. The Big Ten was the first to go to conference-only play, doing it in early July.

The Pac-12 followed two days later and eventually all the Power Five conferences switched to either all conference play or mostly.

The first FBS conference to pull the plug on a fall season was the Mid-American Conference on Saturday, and then the Mountain West did the same on Monday.

But those conferences don’t have the revenue, reach and history of the Big Ten, which seemed positioned to pour resources into trying to protect their athletes from getting and spreading COVID-19.

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

The Pac-12’s members are in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

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