Big Ten Conference to Resume College Football in October

Daily COVID testing begins Sept. 30. Practice and games will be allowed to go ahead as long as the team and the public stay below a certain positivity rate threshold

Sep 16, 2020 at 4:39 pm
click to enlarge Ohio State University - Photo: Jobengo at English Wikipedia // CC
Photo: Jobengo at English Wikipedia // CC
Ohio State University

Big news for Big Ten football fans and college football fans in general: The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors has voted to start the football season on Oct. 23/24.

They previously said Big Ten football was canceled for the 2020 season.

According to a release, "The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test."

Each university will have a Chief Infection Officer who will manage the collection and reporting of the testing for the Big Ten. Teams can continue playing and practicing based on their positivity rate.

Daily testing will begin Sept. 30 and use the following data markers to determine play: 

  • Green: Means the team positivity rate is 0-2% and the average population positivity rate is 0-3.5%.
  • Orange: Means the team positivity rate is 2-5% and the population is at 3.5-7.5%.
  • Red: Means the team has a positivity rate greater than 5% and the general population has a positivity rate greater than 7.5%.
  • If the levels are at Green/Green or Green/Orange (for the team and population, respectively), normal practice and game play will continue.
  • If the levels hit Orange/Orange or Orange/Red, teams "must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention."
  • If things go Red/Red, the team must stop practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and then reassess the metrics to see if COVID positivity rates have improved.

In addition, the Big Ten says, "All COVID-19 positive student-athletes will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing to include labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI. Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes." The 14 schools in the conference will be recording that information and storing it in a cardiac registry to examine and record the effects of COVID on athletes.

Student-athletes who test positive for COVID can return to play — at the earliest — 21 days following their confirmed 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.”

The conference says updates about fall sports other than football and winter sports are coming soon.

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