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Report: Big Ten expected to cancel 2020 college football season

JOE JULIANO
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Big Ten

The Big Ten has voted to cancel the 2020 college football season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday, quoting “multiple people with knowledge of the decision.”

The decision by the Big Ten is the first domino to fall among the Power 5 conferences that have been discussing whether to call off the football season. Each individual conference is expected to continue deliberations this week.

The Free Press reported that the Big Ten’s formal announcement is expected Tuesday. It said its sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Dan Patrick said Monday on his radio show that he had learned Big Ten presidents voted, 12-2, at its meeting Sunday to cancel football, with Nebraska and Iowa as the dissenting members. The vote indicated Penn State elected to call off the fall season.

The Big Ten conducted two virtual meetings over the weekend, with presidents meeting Saturday and presidents and chancellors getting together Sunday. The commissioners of Power 5 conferences held an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss growing concerns over playing amid a pandemic, ESPN reported.

Players want to play: While conference presidents determine whether to cancel fall sports seasons, the nation’s top players are countering with Twitter messages with the “WeWantToPlay” hashtag.

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde quoted a Power 5 source as saying, “It’s gotten to a critical stage. I think all of us will be meeting with our boards in the coming days. We have work to do that’s no fun.”

On Saturday the Mid-American Conference postponed all fall sports including football until the spring. The MAC became the first FBS league to cancel football. Earlier, UConn, which is an FBS football independent, canceled its season.

The players are making their voices heard. A #WeWantToPlay movement over the weekend featured stars such as quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Justin Fields of Ohio State speaking out in support of football season to go on as scheduled.

“I don’t know about y’all, but we want to play,” said Lawrence, the acknowledged frontrunner for the 2020 Heisman Trophy.

“There’s been too much work put in,” Fields wrote.

Many players also used a #WeAreUnited hashtag in support of conducting a college football season safely and creating a college football players association in the power conferences.

PSU parents want season: In addition, the Penn State Football Parents Association issued a statement calling for the season to be carried out, saying it is satisfied with the COVID-19 testing protocols that have been put in place by the university and the Big Ten.

“The players want to play this season,” said the statement, written by Dianne Freiermuth, mother of Nittany Lions tight end Pat Freiermuth. “While risk can never be eliminated, Penn State has minimized the risk and the season can be played in a safe manner.

“While I respect the viewpoint of others who may feel differently about the upcoming season, I have full trust in the decisions made by our football coaches and staff.”

Temple situation: Temple plays in the American Athletic Conference, a non-Power 5 league, that is referred to as a Group of 5 conference. On Wednesday the league presidents and athletic directors met and there was a strong push to go forward. The AAC announced then that teams would play eight conference games and as many as four nonconference games.

In less than a week the landscape has changed. An AAC official had no comment on the current speculation of this season’s potential demise.