For the first time since 1888, Wisconsin will not play a college football season.
The official announcement, made at 2:00 p.m. CST, states that the conference decided to cancel the fall season for all sports due to COVID-19 concerns.
“The Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments, due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the statement. “The Big Ten Conference relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.”
This announcement comes just six days after the conference released a 10-week, conference-only football schedule that was slated to start in September. Teams were allowed under those protocols to begin practice last Friday, Aug. 7. It is unclear what has changed in the past six days to facilitate this decision.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez released a statement immediately following the announcement, saying they, like everyone else, wanted college sports to return “to restore some sense of normalcy,” but acknowledged that the unfortunate decision “was the correct one.”
“We are all going to miss the excitement of Saturdays at Camp Randall, cheering the volleyball team in the Field House as it was headed toward another run for a National Championship, the excellence of our cross country runners and the memorable experiences that come with men’s and women’s soccer,” the statement continues.
University of Wisconsin-Madison players have already taken to Twitter to voice their extreme displeasure with the Big Ten’s decision.
“Ain’t no way we play in the spring then turn around and play in the fall. Our bodies won’t last, stop getting people hopes up,” tweeted cornerback Faion Hicks.
This sentiment has been echoed by many across the college football world; college athletes use the offseason to rest, recover, and prepare for the grind that is a college football season. Shortening that offseason by three to four months would undoubtedly have dangerous implications for players.
Quarterback Graham Mertz’s tweet of one single ellipse encapsulates the disappointment and confusion from the University of Wisconsin football players.
While it seems that Wisconsin Athletics will respect the Big Ten’s decision, other Big Ten programs are not so eager to cancel their athletics. The University of Nebraska issued a statement saying they are “disappointed” with the ruling, and that they hope that “it may be possible for our student athletes to have the opportunity to compete.”
The Big Ten’s decision to cancel the upcoming season is at odds with the medical experts of both the ACC and SEC, who have stated that they each plan on playing a fall season. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said there is “too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks.” The ACC and SEC, which include a combined three schools in Florida, the virus’s epicenter, seems to have medical experts that believe otherwise.