Dear Commons Community,
As a follow-up to my posting yesterday on whether colleges will shut down big time football programs this fall, two of the nation’s wealthiest and most powerful football conferences abandoned their plans to play over coronavirus concerns. These moves portend repercussions far beyond the playing field, even as other top leagues were publicly poised to begin games next month. As reported by the New York Times.
“The decisions by the two conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, extended the greatest crisis in the history of college athletics, a multibillion-dollar industry that depends heavily on football to underwrite lower-profile sports and which provides universities with a national profile they use to recruit students and attract donations.
By canceling games this autumn, the two conferences defied calls by some coaches and players and by President Trump to mount a season in the face of the virus’s largely unchecked spread. The plans of other leading leagues to start playing by late September could now quickly change. And the Big Ten and Pac-12 may ultimately move their seasons to the spring.
Playing at this stage of the pandemic, though, presented “too much uncertainty, too much risk,” Kevin Warren, the Big Ten commissioner, said in an interview on Tuesday.
“You have to listen to your medical experts,” Warren said. “There’s a lot of emotion involved with this, but when you look at the health and well-being of our student-athletes, I feel very confident that we made the right decision.”
The moves by both leagues came after intense deliberations among university presidents and chancellors, but the decisions were not universally supported by administrators, coaches and players.
I agree with Commissioner Warren that you”look at the health and well-being of our student-athletes” first.