The Big Ten football season will resume the weekend of Oct. 23-24.

The conference – which includes The Ohio State University – made the announcement Sept. 16.

The Big Ten had announced the postponement of the 2020 fall football season and all other fall sports on Aug. 11, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That decision came after the Big Ten teams announced they would play only conference games and limit attendance.

Ohio State commended the resuming of fall sports in a news release Sept. 16.

"We are so excited for all of Buckeye Nation and enthusiastically support the decision of the Big Ten Conference leadership to proceed with a fall season," OSU President Kristina M. Johnson said, according to the release. "What we have always wanted is an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete in the sports they love."

To resume the football season, the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors is adopting medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition, the conference said in a news release.

Student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games will undergo daily antigen testing, beginning Sept. 30, the conference said in the release. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction test to confirm the result of the POC test.

Dr. Jim Borchers, head team physician at Ohio State and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee, said "groundbreaking" steps are being taken to protect the student-athletes and the local communities.

“The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities," Borchers said in the release.

A designated chief infection officer at each college will oversee the collection and reporting of data for the conference, according to the release. Team test positivity rate and population positivity rate thresholds, based on a seven-day rolling average, will be used to determine recommendations for continuing practice and competition:

Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):

  • Green 0-2%
  • Orange 2-5%
  • Red >5%

Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk):

  • Green 0-3.5%
  • Orange 3.5-7.5%
  • Red >7.5%

Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:

  • Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.
  • Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
  • Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.

All COVID-19 positive student-athletes will undergo comprehensive cardiac testing to include labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI, according to the release. Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.

The 14 colleges in the Big Ten also will establish a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the effects on COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The registry and associated data will attempt to answer many of the unknowns regarding the cardiac manifestations in COVID-19 positive elite athletes. 

All Big Ten sports will eventually require testing protocols before resuming competition, the conference said. The Big Ten plans to soon have updates on other fall sports as well as winter sports.

OSU Director of Athletics Gene Smith said in a statement from the university that he was pleased and grateful the decision to play football was made.

"What makes me so confident that we’ve landed on the right decision is the process that we went through to get here, guided by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force," Smith said in the statement. "They did a thorough and exhaustive job with one guiding principle in mind: the safety and well-being of our student-athletes."

Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day said in the statement it was a good day for the football program, and the result of hard work from the conference and OSU leadership.

"The expertise and recommendations of the task force will allow the teams to get back on the field with the health, safety and well-being of our players as the No. 1 priority," Day said in the statement. "I want to thank the state of Ohio and Buckeye Nation for the unwavering support that means so much to us. I am thrilled our fans will get a chance to see what I see every day, a team that will represent them on and off the field in the best way possible."

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released a statement supporting the decision.

"While it took longer than I wanted, the decision to allow sports again at The Ohio State University and other member universities is the correct one," Yost said in the statement. "This was always about fairness and being equitable in the agreement between the conference and the universities. Going forward it’s my hope that the future of the Big Ten is always fought on the field and not in the courtroom."

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