A crumbling college football season took a massive hit Tuesday when
the Big Ten and Pac-12, two historic and powerful conferences,
succumbed to the pandemic and canceled their fall football seasons.
Five months almost to the day after the first spikes in coronavirus
cases in the U.S. led to the cancellation of the NCAA basketball
tournaments, the still raging pandemic is tearing down another
American sports institution: fall Saturdays filled with college
''This was an extremely difficult and painful decision that we know
will have important impacts on our student-athletes, coaches,
administrators and our fans,'' Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott
said. ''We know nothing will ease that.''
Despite pleas from players, coaches and President Donald Trump in
recent days to play on, 40% of major college football teams have
now decided to punt on a fall season, a decision that will cost
schools tens of millions of dollars and upends traditions dating
back a century.
Both conferences cited the risk of trying to keep players from
contracting and spreading the coronavirus when the programs are not
operating in a bubble like the NBA and NHL are doing. They also
cited the broader state of the pandemic in the United States, which
has had more than 5 million cases of COVID-19.
''Every life is critical,'' first-year Big Ten Commissioner Kevin
Warren told the AP. ''We wanted to make sure we continually, not
only in our words but in our actions, do put the health and safety
and wellness of our student-athletes first.''
Two smaller conferences, the Mid-American and Mountain West, had
already announced the uncertain move to spring football. The
decisions by the deep-pocketed Big Ten and Pac-12, with hundred
million-dollar television contracts and historic programs, shook
the foundation of college sports.