MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A day after the Big 10 Conference and the Pac-12 Conference announced the cancellation of fall sports throughout their leagues, the Big 12 is pressing on with plans for the 2020 season.
The conference released their revised 2020 football schedule Wednesday morning. All ten Big 12 schools will open league play on Saturday, September 26. Regular season play will continue through Saturday, December 5. The conference championship game will be played on December 12.
“The Board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions” commented Board of Directors Chairman and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini.
“To that end the Board has consistently relied on the advice and counsel of top medical experts to determine the viability of available options. Our student-athletes want to compete, and it is the Board’s collective opinion that sports can be conducted safely and in concert with the best interests of their well-being. We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID 19 as we learn more about the virus. If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course.”
League commissioner Bob Bowlsby said conference officials heard from a host of medical experts at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
“Last evening, we had a team from the University of Kansas that was very helpful is helping the board think through the issues. We also had a representative from the Mayo Clinic that works in genetic cardiology. They provided some very helpful information.”
Big 12 members have committed to enhanced COVID-19 testing that includes three tests per week in “high contact” sports, like Football, Volleyball and Soccer. Additionally, return to play protocols after positive occurrences will include an EKG, troponin blood test, echocardiogram, and cardiac MRI. Non-conference football opponents must also adhere to COVID-19 testing protocols that conform to Big 12 standards during the week leading up to competition.
“The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week,” said Bowlsby. “Opinions vary regarding the best path forward, as we’ve seen throughout higher education and our society overall, but we are comfortable in our institutions’ ability to provide a structured training environment, rigorous testing and surveillance, hospital quality sanitation and mitigation practices that optimize the health and safety of our student-athletes. We believe all of this combines to create an ideal learning and training situation during this time of COVID-19. Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome.”
Six of the ten FBS conferences plan to proceed with their respective seasons at this time. The Big 10, Pac-12, Mid-American and Mountain West conferences are looking at options for a spring football season. The ACC and SEC join the Big 12 as ‘Power 5’ conferences still playing to play in the fall.
“I don’t know that we would want to be the only college playing football. To the question about the postseason, that pretty much eliminates the postseason. (ACC Commissioner) John Swofford and (SEC Commissioner) Greg Sankey spend a lot of time together and we spend a lot of time comparing notes. I think it is unlikely that we would diverge without a fairly significant conversation.”
“When the Big 12 announced a revised 10-game season, we knew that the schedule would change and there would be some flexibility built in to handle any COVID-19 disruptions,” WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said. “This new schedule provides us with the nine league games, the one nonconference date and the ability to plan accordingly.”
All Big 12 sports’ competitions will commence after September 1. To ensure consistent health and safety protocols, volleyball and soccer matches will be limited to conference opponents only.
Bowlsby cautioned that ultimately the fate of the fall sports seasons can rest in the hands of the student-athletes themselves.
“A lot of the success of the teams going forward is how many potholes we fall into. It has to do with whether or not young people can discipline themselves to not go to parties where there are hundreds of kids in close contact.”
2020 WVU Football Schedule
- September 12 – vs. Eastern Kentucky
- September 26 – at Oklahoma State
- October 3 – vs. Baylor
- October 17 – vs. Kansas
- October 24 – at Texas Tech
- October 31 – vs. Kansas State
- November 7 – at Texas
- November 14 – vs. TCU
- November 28 – vs. Oklahoma
- December 5 – at Iowa State