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Penn State to play a 10-game, conference-only football season starting with Sept. 5 game

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Penn State

Penn State's revised 2020 football schedule has been released.

The Big Ten Conference will play a 10-game, conference-only football schedule, it was announced Wednesday.  

“We’re approaching this entire process on a day-to-day basis,” Commissioner Kevin Warren said on the Big Ten Network. “We’re gathering medical information daily, we’re communicating with all of our constituents in the Big Ten and communicating with student-athletes. This will not be a straight line this year.”

Penn State opens the 2020 football season Sept. 5 at Beaver Stadium against Northwestern. The Nittany Lions open preseason practice Friday, Aug. 7.

Minnesota Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren talks to reporters after being named Big Ten Conference Commissioner during a news conference Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Rosemont, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The league had earlier announced that its members would not play their scheduled nonconference contests.

Season ticket holders will be emailed information regarding the 2020 football season Thursday morning.

The Big Ten schedule will span 12 weeks with each team having two open dates. The Big Ten schedule was constructed in a way that allows season to start as early as the weekend of Sept. 5, but also provides the ability to move the start of the season back to Sept. 12, 19 or 26 through strategic sequencing that allows games to be moved to a latter part of the schedule.

The Big Ten Championship Game remains scheduled for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, though it could be moved as late as Dec. 19. Game times will be announced at a later date.

Programs impacted: At least four Big Ten football programs have been impacted by COVID-19. Outbreaks forced the shutdown of voluntary workouts at Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers and Northwestern.

The Big Ten was the last of the Power Five conferences to announce its schedule as college football navigates how to play games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“In making this announcement, the Conference acknowledges that there is much work to be done on our campuses, in our communities and across the country to gain control of a virus that continues to spread at an alarming rate,” the conference said in a statement. “While the Conference remains hopeful for a September 2020 start in all fall sports, including football, issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur. While our strategy is to continue planning for all fall sports, if the virus continues to spread among our students despite our many preventative measures, including testing and quarantine protocols, we are also prepared to delay or cancel competition pursuant to local and state public health orders or the recommendations of our medical experts.”

Other sports, medical policies: In addition to plans for the 2020 football season, the Big Ten competition start dates for men’s and women’s cross-country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball have been postponed through at least Sept. 5. Conference-only schedules for these sports will be released at a later date.

The conference also released its medical policies and protocols for all sports on testing requirements, and quarantine and isolation. Testing will be managed by a third-party laboratory to ensure consistency across the conference.

Testing frequency will be based on the level of contact risk within each sport and is required for athletes, coaches and staff depending upon exposure to the athletes.

Sports that have a high risk of contact will have a minimum of two tests per week during the competitive season. All other sports will have a minimum of one test per week.

The player advocacy group College Athlete Unity, in a letter to the Big Ten and NCAA published on The Players’ Tribune website, called on the conference to penalize schools that don’t adhere to testing protocols and other safety measures. The group, among other things, also asked for an adjustment to players’ cost-of-living stipends to account for the increase in personal expenses related to limited access athletic facilities and reimbursement for stipends that were reduced during the summer.

2020 Penn State Football Schedule

Sept. 5: Northwestern

Sept. 12: at Indiana

Sept. 19: at Michigan

Sept. 26: Michigan State

Oct. 3: at Rutgers

Oct. 17: Maryland

Oct. 24: Iowa

Oct. 31: at Nebraska

Nov. 7: Ohio State

Nov. 21: at Illinois

Dec. 5: Big Ten Championship Game

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.