Big Ten signals college football’s return with new COVID-19 protocols.

Wisconsin joined the Big Ten Conference in 1896. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Football’s Instagram and Facebook profiles.

Author: Jessica Gregory

The Big Ten authorized the start of a fall football season Wednesday morning that is set to begin mid-October. 

A unanimous vote made by Big Ten Presidents and Board of Chancellors pushed the football season forward after the Return to Competition Task Force presented their comprehensive plan for extensive medical protocols. 

Only one month prior, these same officials made the decision to postpone the fall sports seasons until spring 2021. Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement this morning that the Big Ten’s plans in place for testing and guidelines for isolation and positivity rates have remedied her initial worries. 

Student-athletes, coaches, and other on-field personnel will have daily antigen testing, the Big Ten’s website reports. Before every practice and game, test results must be recorded in order to begin. Each school’s Chief Infection Officer (CInO) will report the COVID-19 test data back to the Big Ten, who will continually monitor trends.

Any athletes who test positive will have enhanced cardiac screenings and must be cleared by a cardiologist before returning to competition. 

UW Chancellor Blank said that rapid testing for players is being paid for by the Big Ten. Daily testing for football student-athletes begins Sept. 30, 2020.

For the Big Ten season to continue, team rates and the total population rate must remain under a threshold determined by medical professionals. If positivity rates for the team reach past 5% or if the population positivity rate exceeds 7.5% then practices and games will be cancelled for at least a week.

Wisconsin football tweeted out this morning saying “We’re back”. Their season will begin the weekend of Oct. 23, 2020. The Badgers will have a total of 9 games, four away and four home with one game to be determined. Big Ten’s championship title game is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.  

Badger football players current and former expressed excitement via Twitter today. Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz simply tweeted “Go Time,” receiving thousands of likes. Melvin Gordon, the Badger’s Heisman finalist running back in 2014 and current NFL player for the Denver Broncos, tweeted a gif of a happy little girl with the caption “So I hear Wisconsin football is back.” 

When the Big Ten removed fall sports in August, Nebraska quarterback Justin Fields created a #WeWantToPlay campaign that gained traction amongst Big Ten players and fans. The petition is almost to it’s goal of reaching 400,000 signatures.

WSUM News will follow this story as developments emerge.