DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — The Big Ten is the first Power Five conference to announce it will cancel fall football and eye a potential spring season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This follows a weekend meeting of conference commissioners. It’s expected that others may follow the Big Ten’s lead.
“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 in a statement.
“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,” added Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren.
On Sunday, Big 12 commissioners cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis” as a reason for a potential cancellation.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart, and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.
The final call on whether major college football will be played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the other largest conferences.
All this activity comes days after the Mid-American Conference became the first among 10 leagues that play at the highest tier of Division I college football to cancel fall sports because of concerns about keeping athletes from contracting and spreading COVID-19.
The MAC’s decision came less than a month before the first games are scheduled to be played and raised questions about whether other conferences might follow.
Meanwhile, college football players took to social media to push for a season, led by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with a series of tweets.
“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence tweeted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”
Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message.
“Since day one coming back to campus the Penn State Football staff and medical experts have put our health and safety first, above anything else,” he tweeted. “The guidelines put into place keep us safe while playing the game we love. We are ready to play and we want to play.”
Other players tweeted with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, and within a few hours that movement merged with another.
President Trump weighed in on Monday encouraging universities to go ahead with the football season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.