The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday it will not play non conference games in football and several other sports this fall, the most dramatic move yet by a power conference because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The conference cited medical advice in making its decision and added ominously that the plan would be applied only ''if the conference is able to participate in fall sports.''
There has been deep unease that the pandemic will deal a blow to fall sports after wiping out hundreds of games, including March Madness, this past spring. More than a dozen schools have reported positive tests for the virus among athletes in the past month but the bad news picked up this week as the Ivy League canceled all fall sports and Stanford announced it was cutting 11 varsity sports.
The Big Ten decision is the biggest yet because Bowl Subdivision football games - more than 40 of them, all moneymakers in different ways - were simply erased. And the move didn't wash away fears the entire fall season could be in jeopardy.
''I am really concerned, that is the question of the day,'' Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said on a conference call after the announcement. ''I was cautiously optimistic. I'm not even there now.''
Besides football, the sports affected include men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, and women's volleyball.