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Big Ten presidents and chancellors again fail to decide whether the conference will play football in 2020

One Big Ten president was caught on a hot mic saying there would be a vote Tuesday night, but it did not happen. The conference already has worked out an eight-game schedule beginning Oct. 17 or 24.

Penn State's Beaver Stadium remains empty of football action.
Penn State's Beaver Stadium remains empty of football action.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Despite a suggestion from a Big Ten president that a favorable decision involving a football season would be announced, the conference’s presidents and chancellors failed again Tuesday to decide whether football in 2020 would go forward.

The 14 members of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors did not reach a consensus on football for the second day. The three subcommittees of the conference’s Return to Competition Task Force had briefed the council on Sunday, and reports at that time said there was optimism that a football season would be restored.

The optimism grew Tuesday morning when Nebraska president Ted Carter, caught on a hot mic before a press conference, said during a conversation, “We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight.”

After realizing what he had said, Carter later told Lincoln, Neb., television station KLKN that his statement was “picked up a little out of context.”

“All I said is that there is work going on, and we remain cautiously optimistic like everybody else that we’ll get to discover when it’s safe to play,” he said.

The Detroit News quoted a source as saying another subcommittee of the task force already has worked out an eight-game, conference-only schedule that could begin either Oct. 17 or Oct. 24 and be done in time to hold a championship game on Dec. 19, one day before the College Football Playoff announces its four-team field.

The earlier start to the season would allow for a bye week.

The latest no-decision came exactly five weeks after the Big Ten voted on Aug. 11 not to have a season because of coronavirus concerns. Eleven presidents and chancellors elected to go without football, meaning six schools would have to change their votes to have the nine (60%) necessary to reverse the decision.

The wait is making coaches and players throughout the Big Ten anxious, as are media reports wondering what happens next.

“Everyone is only thinking about football,” Penn State defensive end Shaka Toney, a former Imhotep Charter star, said on Twitter. “The rumors y’all keep putting out are destroying our mental health. Just let them announce it please.”

The major issues with presidents and chancellors concerns their questions about COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as well as the threat of myocarditis, a heart condition, in athletes who come down with the virus. Reports said a significant difference during the discussion was the availability of rapid-response testing options that would allow teams to test daily.

“Until we have answers to that, we will keep our season postponed,” Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank said Tuesday. “Once we have answers to that and to some of those issues and things that we have ways to deal with them effectively, we will try to plan a delayed season.”

Blank, who testified before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on a proposal to pay college athletes for the use of their names, images, and likenesses, also answered a question regarding a football vote. When the Big Ten decided to stop a football season last month, it took three weeks for the conference to acknowledge a vote had even been taken.

“I can’t say what the vote is going to look like,” Blank said. “Decisions within the Big Ten are largely majority-based decisions. But I’ll be honest, we almost always decide everything by consensus. We very rarely take votes.”