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Doctors, presidents and student-athletes: here’s how the Big 12 made its decision

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Months and months of discussion regarding the Big 12 football season culminated in “a wild couple of days” for Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the conference plans to move forward with its 2020 fall season.

This decision was not made lightly, with input from all levels including medical professionals, athletic directors, university presidents and even the student-athletes themselves. On top of that, conference commissioners have spoken on a “daily” going back to the beginning of March.

“We have spent a week and really, it’s a culmination of the last five months trying to ascertain the best path forward,” Bowlsby said. “We’ve done that mostly talking to our student-athletes and talking to health care professionals and scientists that are working in COVID research and care. We have evolved over time, there isn’t any question about that, we’re learning more all the time, and yet there’s much we don’t know.”

Bowlsby said the conference has regularly spoken with doctors on their conference medical committee over the last several months, while speaking weekly with a “star-studded” group of doctors, researchers and scientists from each Power Five conference.

“We feel like, through the combination, [we] have gotten good advice,” Bowlsby said.

University administrators also have access to their own medical staff in addition to the expertise that the Big 12 has sought out, however Bowlsby stopped short of revealing how the various presidents and chancellors weighed in.

“We don’t ever characterize the discussions or the vote in the room…but we feel very good about the vote and about the sense of the meeting and the progression to the decision that we got,” Bowlsby said. “And so I don’t think it’s appropriate to characterize what individuals said or what occurred in the room, but it’s easy to say the board is comfortable with where we are.”

Student-athletes expressed their desire to the Big 12 they want to play, but they had a lot of questions in the event that they do play what would their eligibility status be? Would their financial aid be secure? Will they be safe? Many of those questions have yet to be resolved.

Conversations between the conference and student-athletes began with two representatives from each team, including team captains, appointees from the coach and even players who have recovered from the coronavirus. Talks were wide-ranging and varying in scope, but recently, Bowlsby indicated that the discussions have mostly focused on eligibility and financial aid.

In addition, he said those discussions are ongoing.

“We feel like we’re fully as well-prepared at this time to move forward,” he said.

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