Some college football fans will be seeing a little less non-conference football this upcoming season. On Thursday, the Big Ten Conference announced it will not be playing non-conference games this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other fall sports in the conference are following that same pattern. The elimination of non-conference football games comes on the heels of the Ivy league announcing it will not be playing football or any fall sports this year.
"We may not have sports in the fall," Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren told the Big Ten Network, via Associated Press. "We may not have a college football season in the Big Ten." Warren went on to say that his team wanted to maker sure canceling non-conference games was the "next logical step to always rely on our medical experts to keep our student-athletes at the center of all of our decisions and make sure that they are as healthy as they possibly can be from a mental, a physical, an emotional health and wellness standpoint."
This is the first big decision by a Power Five conference, and based on the growing number of COVID-19 cases, more tough decisions about college football will likely be made in the coming weeks. Big Ten has eliminated 33 home games against non-conference schools, many of them outside the Power Five, which means those schools will lose $22.2 million of guaranteed income, according to USA Today. Some of the big games that have been called off are Michigan at Washington (Sept. 5), Ohio State at Oregon (Sept.12 ) and Wisconsin at Notre Dame (Oct. 3), which was scheduled to take place the Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers.
"I am really concerned, that is the question of the day," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said on a conference call. "I was cautiously optimistic. I’m not even there now."
What does Big Ten's decision mean for college football this fall? As of now, the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are planning to play a full schedule, but things can change in the next few weeks if teams and communities continue to see increasing cases of the coronavirus. If the season is canceled altogether, it's possible college football and other fall sports could be moved to the spring.