Big Ten and ACC Change Fall Sports Schedules

More dominoes are falling. They won't be the last.

The day after the Ivy League announced it was suspending sports for the fall, two conferences that matter have weighed in

ESPN (“Big Ten moving to conference-only model for all sports this fall“):

The Big Ten on Thursday announced it will be going to a conference-only season for all fall sports, including football, amid “unprecedented times” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

“… By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”


If college football can be played this fall, Big Ten presidents and athletic directors preferred the conference-only model, which will eliminate some long-distance travel and help ensure teams are being tested for the coronavirus universally, multiple sources inside the league and around college football told ESPN.

Other sports affected include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The Big Ten said it would release detailed schedules at a later date and continue to evaluate other sports.

Big Ten presidents and ADs discussed the issues during a conference call earlier this week, and the league’s head coaches were given an opportunity to weigh in on Thursday morning.

“As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate,” the Big Ten statement said.

As Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach note, this means that, at a minimum, these games will be lost:

  • Sept. 5 Michigan at Washington
  • Sept. 12 Ohio State at Oregon; Iowa State at Iowa; Penn State at Va. Tech
  • Sept. 19 App. State at Wisconsin
  • Sept. 26 Miami at Michigan State; Cincinnati at Nebraska
  • Oct. 3 Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame (at Lambeau Field)

A less monumental decision has come from another Power 5 conference (“ACC delaying start of all fall sports until at least Sept. 1“):

The ACC will delay the start of competition for all fall sports until at least Sept. 1, the league announced Thursday. The move, which follows a similar decision by the Patriot League, will affect several sports, including soccer and field hockey, but not football.

The decision was unanimously approved by the ACC board of directors.

The league said that affected games might be rescheduled and that there’s an understanding that cancellation of nonconference games will not result in financial penalties.

The ACC’s decision to delay the start of the fall season is the first by a Power 5 conference. The Patriot League has pushed its start back until Sept. 4, and the Ivy League announced the cancellation of all fall sports earlier this week.

The ACC’s football schedule is set to begin on Sept. 2 when NC State visits Louisville.

Earlier this week, the University of North Carolina paused its voluntary athletics workouts after a breakout of COVID-19 within its programs, including a football shutdown that will last at least one week. Louisville’s basketball program announced similar plans. Clemson football also has been significantly affected by the virus, with 47 members of the athletics department — staff and players — testing positive since returning to campus, including 37 on the football team.

As noted this morning when discussing the Ivy League’s move, while I fully understand why the leagues are trying to salvage the multi-billion dollar enterprise that is college football (please, we’d have canceled the seasons already for the other sports), I just don’t see how it can happen. They’re buying themselves time and maneuver room but, I fear, just delaying the inevitable.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kathy says:

    Remember when it was a Big Deal that the NFL suspended play one week after 9/11? There were stories reminiscing of Rozelle’s decision not to suspend play after JFK was shot.

  2. inhumans99 says:

    The Sports team owners can blame Trump’s twitter tirade as one of the main reasons they will not be able to restart their respective sports seasons anytime soon. I say this because it is evident that our President is doing nothing to improve the situation we find ourselves in, which would eventually make it easier for the Sports franchises to ease into a new normal.

    I just feel like our President has just given up on trying to even do a half-ass job of Presidenting and wants to rant on an on about conspiracy theories and Biden and Clinton until a new President is sworn in, just pathetic.

    Here is the thing, the owners of most sports teams are part of the ultra rich, yes…so it would stand to reason Trump’s inaction on Covid is costing them potentially hundreds of million over the long term and certainly at least an amount in the millions in the short term and one wonders when they (along with other members of the ultra-rich class of U.S. citizens) will finally tell the President to shut up about the tin foil hat qanon stuff, put down his phone and start doing his damn job.

    I think McConnell and Lindsey Graham are reaching a point where they want to scream the above at President Trump (Lindsey Graham was just thrown under the bus today…again, I have to imagine even his obsequiousness has its limits and he is ready to tell Trump to man up and stop being a baby) but so far I have been proven wrong but stranger things have happened.

    President Trump is costing certain folks a lot of money so just maybe folks will stop cowering in fear of the dreaded boogeyma…I mean dreaded Trump voter and sack up and start telling the President to get his shirt together.

  3. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Well, other than Trump not being half-assed at Presidenting to begin with…

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s the Twilight of the Male.

    Women in uniform, MeToo, Beyonc√©, I haven’t seen a McRib in ages, and it turns out a grunting pig as president doesn’t actually work. And now, neither sports nor bars in which to bellow loudly at the game thus advertising their masculine potency to any female dumb enough to be within hearing.

    End of an era.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The End of Men, seems like a sci fi/fantasy series for you or Bill

  6. Tyrell says:

    One event still on is the Indy 500. Roger Penske is set to go. Even with half-capacity at the Brickyard, that means around 150, 000 people. At that massive place, not a problem. Roger Penske gets things done.

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: You do get that the Indy 500 is not happening again for almost a year, right?

  8. Joe says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Write it down. I’m going to bat for Tyrell. This year’s Indy 500 will be run on August 23rd.

  9. EddieInCA says:

    America! Phuck Yeah!!!!

    We’re shutting down college sports.
    NBA is having a difficult time getting going again, with many players opting out.
    MLS has had two teams drop out of their restart, due to players testing positive.
    MLB has put out a schedule, but the biggest player in the game (Mike Trout) isn’t comfortable with the plan.
    The NFL is insisting they will start on time. We will see.

    Meanwhile, in Europe.
    Premier League (England) is on week five of their restart, with no issues. (Manchester United is on fire!!!)
    Budesliga (Germany) in on week six of their restart, no issues.
    La Liga (Spain) is on week six of their restart, no issues.
    Serie A (Italy) is on week seven of their restart, no issue.


  10. Kathy says:


    Betcha those dumb Europeans aren’t conducting enough tests! That’s why they have no issues.