The Big Ten Conference announced Saturday that its member football teams will not be allowed to transition to pads in training camp until further notice, saying its decision was based on advice from its COVID-19 advisory groups.
In a statement, the conference said Penn State and its fellow institutions will remain “in the first two days of the acclimatization period … as we continue to transition prudently through preseason practice.” It said helmets are the only protective equipment that players may wear as the initial phase of camp continues.
According to NCAA rules, teams must conduct their first two days of practice without pads. Penn State began its preseason practice Friday, offering a video on Twitter of their players wearing face shields with their helmets, and all personnel on the practice field wearing masks.
As the Big Ten made its announcement, its presidents gathered for a regularly scheduled meeting. A conference spokesman told ESPN that no vote would be made on whether to call off the fall sports seasons, including football.
A delay in implementing padded practices could result in a later start to the season. The Big Ten announced its 2020 schedule on Wednesday, with games beginning on Sept. 3, 4, and 5. But the plan provides flexibility in the event of postponements. Penn State is to begin its season on Sept. 5 at home against Northwestern.
“We understand there are many questions regarding how this impacts schedules,” the conference said, “as well as the feasibility of proceeding forward with the season at all.
“As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relaying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes.”
The Big Ten is being advised by its Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and its sports medicine committee.