TAYLOR COUNTY—On the same day that the Big 10 and PAC-12 conferences decided to cancel their fall sports seasons, the Big 12 Board of Directors agreed to move forward and proceed with playing.
“The Board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions,” said TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini, who is also the chairman of the Board of Directors. “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. We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID-19 as we learn more about the virus. If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course.”
With the spotlight now on the Big 12, SEC, and ACC conferences, who all decided to continue playing instead of delaying or shutting down their seasons, the Big 12’s institutions have all committed to enhanced COVID-19 testing that includes three tests per week in “high contact” sports such as football, soccer, and volleyball. In addition, return-to-play protocols after any positive occurrence would include a cardiac MRI, troponin blood test, and an echocardiogram. Leading up to the week of football games, non-conference opponents must also adhere to COVID-19 testing procedures that conform to the Big 12’s standards.
“The virus continues to evolve, and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week,” said Big 12 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 COVID19. 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.”
On Thursday, the Big 12 released its revised 2020 conference football schedule featuring a “9+1” scheduling model, which consists of nine conference games and one out-of-conference game. Each team will have a minimum of two bye weeks with the potential for a third later in the season. A start date of September 26th begins conference play with the conference championship tentatively scheduled for December 12th. Each individual school will be responsible for releasing its schedule and all non-conference games must be completed before September 26th. Regarding spectators, fan attendance will be determined by each institution in accordance with local and/or state health ordinances.
According to a statement issued by the conference, “all Big 12 sports competition will start after September 1st, and to ensure consistent health and safety protocols, volleyball and soccer matches will be limited to conference opponents only.”