For the Big Ten potentially returning to college football this fall, sources said the league has taken the step before the final step.
As part of the league’s return-to-competition task force, the medical committee made a lengthy presentation to the steering committee of eight presidents and chancellors on Saturday afternoon. Sources said that league officials have decided to present the league’s plan to return to play — medical, scheduling and television — formally to the full Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COPC), sources told Yahoo Sports. That presentation is expected to take place on Sunday and culminate eventually with a vote, but that COPC vote isn’t guaranteed to take place directly after the expected presentation on Sunday.
While a vote on Sunday isn’t guaranteed, it’s likely to come at some point in the next 72 hours. That vote would likely determine both if and when the Big Ten would return to play this season.
The most optimistic date being discussed is Oct. 17, with a Big Ten championship game in late December. Still, nothing is certain. The league has two programs, Maryland and Wisconsin, currently on pause that would struggle to start on that date. The presidents could also decide to start later, as other dates that have been discussed include late November and January.
The Zoom call Saturday featured the steering committee of the return-to-play task force. This includes Morty Schapiro of Northwestern, who is the chair of the COPC. It also includes seven other university leaders — Joan Gabel of Minnesota, Ronnie Green of Nebraska, Bruce Harreld of Iowa, Jonathan Holloway of Rutgers, Kristina Johnson of Ohio State, Robert Jones of Illinois and Samuel Stanley of Michigan State.
It was essentially up to that group to evaluate the medical information brought forth today by the task force to decide whether the entire group of 14 presidents and chancellors should see the presentation and eventually vote on it. That was successful.
The medical information presented on Saturday was expected to be the most scrutinized. If the Big Ten is to return, sources made it clear to Yahoo Sports that they’d have to present a distinctly different picture medically than when they decided to postpone the season nearly six weeks ago. The league’s presidents and chancellors voted to postpone 11-3 at that time.
The biggest medical difference available today compared to Aug. 11, when the Big Ten decided to postpone the season, is mainstream availability of daily rapid testing. So far, the Pac-12 and Big 12 have announced partnerships to provide the testing for their schools.
President Donald Trump spoke to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren on Sept. 1 about the availability of daily rapid testing. The Big Ten has yet to make public how they’d garner testing, but it’s unlikely to be from the federal government.
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