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  • Staff Report


PAC-12 also postpones fall sports, other Power 5 conferences could follow

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments, due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In making its decision, which was based on multiple factors, the Big Ten Conference relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.

“We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in shaping the future of the talented young women and men who compete in the Big Ten Conference. Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult. While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point. Everyone associated with the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions is committed to getting everyone back to competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The fall sports included in this announcement are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. The Big Ten Conference will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring. Decisions regarding winter and spring sports will also continue to be evaluated.

The Big Ten Conference is proud of its 14 world-class research institutions and has leveraged their resources and expertise to address this pandemic over the past five months. The Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee have engaged in extensive research and sharing of materials and conversations with federal, state and local government agencies, and professional and international sports organizations in order to track and better understand the daily updates surrounding this pandemic. Their advice and counsel have been invaluable as they have worked tirelessly over the past several months in their efforts to create and maintain a safe environment for athletics.

The Big Ten Conference will continue to work with medical experts and governmental authorities to gather additional information, evaluate emerging data and technologies, and monitor developments regarding the pandemic to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes.

Statements from Penn State Athletics

Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour

We support the Big Ten’s decision to postpone fall sports. I know this was not an easy decision, or one taken lightly by those involved. However, it was the decision the university presidents, Commissioner Kevin Warren and the athletic directors believe was best for the long-term health and safety of our student-athletes.

I would like to begin by saying I know this announcement is one that will hit our student-athletes, coaches and staff very hard. A piece of our student-athletes’ collegiate experience has been taken from them for reasons beyond their control and for that, I am heartbroken. I do know our student-athletes are a resilient bunch and will handle today’s news with the same resolve as our winter and spring student-athletes did and be better for it in the end.

We also cannot ignore the impact this will have on our community at large, including our local businesses. We have the greatest fans in all of college athletics and we know they will be the first ones cheering our teams on when we return to athletics. We also know our donors will continue to be a big reason why we can continue to support our student-athletes during this difficult time.

Our medical staff, in conjunction with local and state health officials, created an in-depth medical plan and protocols to do our best to keep our student-athletes and staff healthy and safe. Our student-athletes did an amazing job of following the protocols we had in place and I am so appreciative of the sacrifices they have made these last few months. I am so proud of how they have and continue to represent Penn State.

While this is difficult news for our student-athletes, coaches and staff in already uncertain times, I know we will get through this as a Penn State family and be better for it. Our student-athletes will continue to perform at a high level in the classroom and in the community, while also continuing to prepare for our return to sport in the future.

Cross Country Head Coach John Gondak and Associate Head Coach Angela Reckart

We are heartbroken for our student-athletes following the announcement of the postponement of the fall season.

The safety and well-being of our student-athletes has always been the number one priority for Penn State and the Big Ten Conference. We will continue to do our best to ensure our student-athletes are put in the best situation to compete again.

Our students have persevered through uncharted waters for months and we are so proud of how they have handled these trying times in the classroom, as well as preparing for the fall season of competition.

Our student-athletes have trained so diligently to be ready to represent Penn State during these times of uncertainty and we are disappointed they won’t be able to represent our great institution this fall.

These are trying times for all the members of our Penn State cross country programs, but we will continue to prepare for the next opportunity that we get to don the Blue & White.

We look forward to the next time our outstanding student-athletes get the opportunity to race for the Nittany Lions.

Field Hockey Head Coach Char Morett-Curtiss

This is a very hard day for our field hockey family and while this not the outcome we were hoping for, we understand and appreciate that both our conference and Penn State University have prioritized the health and safety of not only our student-athletes but of our community as well in making this decision. We as the Penn State Field Hockey team will continue to do our part in keeping ourselves and those around us safe by abiding by the local, university and state guidelines as we work to get through this together. We hope our Penn State Field Hockey family of athletes, alumni and fans remain safe and healthy through these uncertain times.

Men’s Soccer Head Coach Jeff Cook

The Big Ten’s decision to postpone fall sports is one we have been dreading, but it was made in the best interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community. Everyone at Penn State, especially our players, have done everything possible to prepare to play this fall. We are devastated we won’t be able to compete and represent Penn State in 2020, but we WILL be ready to do so when given the all clear.

Women’s Soccer Head Coach Erica Dambach

This is a difficult day for the Penn State women’s soccer family with the announcement of the postponement of fall sports. Penn State’s and the Big Ten Conference’s number one priority for our student-athletes during these uncertain times has always been their health and well-being. Our student-athletes have done everything we’ve asked of them to remain healthy and safe over these past several months. I am so proud of how dedicated our students have been to their studies, as well as preparing and training under incredibly difficult circumstances. I am saddened they won’t be able to showcase their talents this fall, but we will be ready for the next time we can be out on Jeffrey Field and represent our great institution.  We as a Penn State women’s soccer family hopes everyone remains healthy and safe until the next time we all can be together.

Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Russ Rose

As the coach of the Penn State Women’s Volleyball, I understand the decision to postpone fall sports was one that was not taken lightly. The health and safety of our student-athletes, their families and the entire Penn State community will always be our number one priority. 

I am proud of the way the women on this team have handled the situation and the work they have put in to create a safe and healthy environment during early-season workouts and practice. I am confident they will continue those efforts and we will come back as strong as ever. We look forward to the next chance we get to represent Penn State. 

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