The Big Ten isn’t ready to punt on the 2020 football season, but Ohio State’s director of athletics is hoping the public starts toeing the line after the conference announced it will cancel all fall nonconference games Thursday.
“I’m really concerned we might not be able to play,” Gene Smith said. “That’s why we took the steps we took. I was cautiously optimistic. I’m not even there now.
“People need to follow the protocols (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to give our kids a chance to compete.”
The Big Ten is the first major football conference to make sweeping changes to its schedule. The Ivy League canceled its entire football schedule Wednesday.
Big Ten Statement on 2020-21 Fall Season:https://t.co/KLjc4mA47h— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) July 9, 2020
Smith acknowledged the change is a proactive move in case the coronavirus causes game cancellations late in the season – typically when a team plays the bulk of its conference schedule.
Notable nonconference games now off the schedule include UC’s Sept. 26 contest at Nebraska and the Buckeyes' road matchup against Oregon on Sept. 5.
“Today’s news out of the Big Ten Conference was disappointing,” John Cunningham, UC’s director of athletics, said in a release. “We were looking forward to the opportunity of playing at Nebraska. We are preparing for the 2020 season and will continue to work with the leadership from the University and the American Athletic Conference to best position ourselves.”
The move affects more than football. Women’s volleyball and both men’s and women’s soccer are among the other programs playing a strictly intraconference schedule.
If the Buckeyes are able to host football games, the program will adhere to the CDC’s protocols of maintaining 6 feet of social distancing.
Ohio State said it has no plans to cut any athletic programs or coaches' salaries.