Just one day after Jim Harbaugh said he would “want the responsibility of keeping our players safe and educating them” by having a football season, the Big Ten is planning to play a conference-only schedule, if the season happens at all, per a source. The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach first reported the news.
“My thoughts would be, it’s a different conversation if there’s no students on campus,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “If students are on campus, then my personal belief as a parent of a daughter who would also be on campus that this is a safe place.”
As first reported by ESPN, the ruling will extend to all fall sports, affecting men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, and volleyball.
“If the Conference is able to participate in fall sports based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports,” the conference said in an official statement. “Details for these sports will be released at a later date.
“… This decision was made following many thoughtful conversations over several months between the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Directors of Athletics, Conference Office staff, and medical experts including the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.”
For the football team, the ruling will cause the cancelation of its scheduled games at Washington, vs. Ball State and vs. Arkansas State. While the Ball State and Arkansas State games were one-time matchups, the Wolverines are currently scheduled to play Washington in Ann Arbor in 2021 as part of a home-and-home series.
As for the rest of Michigan’s schedule, it is unclear whether the Big Ten will add additional conference games to replace the three lost games — if the current plans hold up as coronavirus cases escalate across the country.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Ethan Sears contributed reporting to this story.