Big 12 sports are still on for the 2020 season after a hectic day in the world of college athletics.
Big 12 university presidents met Tuesday night after a day full of decisions in Power Five football, ultimately announcing Wednesday morning their intention to move forward with the 2020 season with a revised football schedule including the new “9+1” model.
The conference slate will officially begin Sept. 26, and all teams will complete their lone non-conference matchup before that date. West Virginia has announced they will begin their season against Eastern Kentucky at home on Sept. 12.
“The Board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions” commented Board of Directors Chairman and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini. “To that end the Board has consistently relied on the advice and counsel of top medical experts to determine the viability of available options. Our student-athletes want to compete, and it is the Board’s collective opinion that sports can be conducted safely and in concert with the best interests of their well-being.”
The decision was made with the pretense of enhanced medical protocols moving forward in “high contact” sports like football, volleyball and soccer, including more COVID-19 testing, along with possible tests involving heart imaging if a student-athlete tests positive.
“The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Opinions vary regarding the best path forward, as we’ve seen throughout higher education and our society overall, but we are comfortable in our institutions’ ability to provide a structured training environment, rigorous testing and surveillance, hospital quality sanitation and mitigation practices that optimize the health and safety of our student-athletes. We believe all of this combines to create an ideal learning and training situation during this time of COVID-19. Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome.”
The Big 12’s announcement left the door open for spectators at venues, stating that capacities will be determined by each member institution in accordance with government officials.
Beyond football, the Big 12 says all sports’ competition will begin on Sept. 1, with volleyball and soccer will only competing in conference.