Big Ten announces conference-only schedules if fall sports are played this season

Conference also prepared to cancel seasons if COVID-19 pandemic requires

The Big Ten logo painted on the field (Mark Cunningham, Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Big Ten announced Thursday that fall sports teams, including football, will only play against conference opponents this year if there is a season.

Fall sports affected by this announcement include football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, field hockey and men’s and women’s cross country. Decisions for the sports that aren’t listed will be made at a later time, the conference announced.

Big Ten officials said this decision was made based on the advice of medical experts amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic,” the conference said in a statement.

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Summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports, the conference announced. Athletes who choose not to participate in the 2020-21 season due to concerns about COVID-19 will have their scholarships honored and remain in good standing with their teams, officials said.

“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 statement says.

Michigan was scheduled to play at Washington and host Ball State and Arkansas State in its three out-of-conference games this season.

Michigan State was scheduled to visit BYU and host Toledo and Miami (Florida) in nonconference games.

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