More than a week after making the controversial decision to postpone all fall sports due to continued concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren finally gave a detailed reason behind it.
Facing extreme pressure from players and their parents, including a planned protest outside the conference headquarters in Chicago, Warren released an extensive letter explaining why there won’t be a Big Ten season in football for the first time since 1895.
Kevin Warren speaks. An open letter to Big Ten Community. pic.twitter.com/BNrkCNc3yg
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 19, 2020
Among the biggest questions that came up in the last week was whether there was a vote by college chancellors and presidents. Warren was clear there was.
“The vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited,” Warren wrote. “The decision was thorough and deliberative, and based on sound feedback, guidance and advice from medical experts.”
Warren also laid out the medical reasons behind the decision:
* Transmission rates continue to rise at an alarming rate with little indication from medical experts that our campuses, communities or country could gain control of the spread of the virus prior to the start of competition.
| As our teams were ramping up for more intense practices, many of our medical staffs did not think the interventions we had planned would be adequate to decrease the potential spread even with very regular testing.
| As the general student body comes back to campus, spread to student-athletes could reintroduce infection into our athletics community.
* There is simply too much we do not know about the virus, recovery from infection, and longer-term effects. While the data on cardiomyopathy is preliminary and incomplete, the uncertain risk was unacceptable at this time.
* Concerns surrounding contact tracing still exist, including the inability to social distance in contact sports pursuant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. While risk mitigation processes (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, proper hygiene, etc.) can be implemented across campus for the student body population, it became clear those processes could not be fully implemented in contact sports.
| With the start of full-contact practices and competitions, it became increasingly clear that contact tracing and quarantining would risk frequent and significant disruptions to the practice and competition calendar.
| Accurate and widely available rapid testing may help mitigate those concerns, but access to accurate tests is currently limited.
| Significant concerns also exist regarding the testing supply chain, generally, for many of our institutions.