The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday that all member schools will play only conference games this upcoming season and all of its non-conference games will be canceled. The Big Ten is the first Power Five conference to make this decision.
All Fall sports are impacted by this decision, including men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
“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,” per the Big Ten’s statement on their website.
Since Big Ten teams began playing nine conference games in the 2016 season, it had left room for three non-conference games for scheduling.
The majority of the conference teams were to match up against at least one other Power Five opponent on their non-conference schedules for the 2020 season, which will now be canceled.
“We are pleased that the Big Ten is planning to move forward with fall sports. The conference has determined a path forward that helps mitigate risk and will allow Husker student-athletes to compete on the field and in the arena,” Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, and President Ted Carter said in a joint statement. “The most important thing is the safety of our student-athletes and that of our Athletics staff and coaches, and we appreciate the thoughtful approach taken by the Big Ten.”
The Huskers were to play in three different non-conference matchups in 2020: Central Michigan on September 12, South Dakota State on September 19, and Cincinnati on September 26.
As of now, Nebraska begins its season September 5 against Purdue in Lincoln.
The Big Ten also announced that all summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary and that any athlete who decides to withdraw from athletics anytime during the summer and/or fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic will continued to have their scholarship honored and remain in good standing with their team.
The conference make it clear it is fully prepared to have no season.
“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.”
Full details on schedule changes will be released at a later date.