Big Ten football returning with play beginning Oct. 23-24

Posted at 9:12 AM, Sep 16, 2020

(WXYZ) — Big Ten football is returning. The league announced on Monday the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors adopted a measure that would allow football to return the weekend of Oct. 23-24.

According to the league, coaches, athletes, trainers and others will undergo daily antigen testing, and results must be completed and recorded before every practice and game.

Any player who tests positive will require another test to confirm the result.

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee. "The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”

Every university will have a Chief Infection Officer who will oversee the collection and reporting of testing data.

All athletes who test positive will also have to undergo cardiac testing, ECG, Echocardiogram and a cardiac MRI. They also must get clearnace from a cardiologist, and the earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days after getting a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

“From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students. The new medical protocols and standards put into place by the Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force were pivotal in the decision to move forward with sports in the conference,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President, and Chair of the Return to Competition Task Force Steering Committee. “We appreciate the conference’s dedication to developing the necessary safety procedures for our students and the communities that embrace them.”

“Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force have accomplished to ensure the health, safety and wellness of student-athletes, coaches and administrators.”

The Big Ten will use data provided by each Chief Infection Office to deterine whether or not practice and games will continue competition.

  • Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):
    • Green 0-2%
    • Orange 2-5%
    • Red >5%
  • Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk):
    • Green 0-3.5%
    • Orange 3.5-7.5%
    • Red >7.5%

Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:

  • Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.
  • Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
  • Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.

Daily testing will begin by Sept. 30.

Updates on other fall sports and winter sports will be announced soon, according to the league.