Hours after the Big Ten and Pac-12 officially postponed football schedules and other fall sports due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported the Big 12 remained committed to allowing programs to conduct football seasons this year.
The Big 12 confirmed that on Wednesday by unveiling a schedule that includes nine conference fixtures and one non-league game for member schools.
Per Riley Gates of 247Sports, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke with reporters on Wednesday and explained his reasoning behind moving forward with football when two Power Five conferences and bodies such as the Mountain West and Mid-American Conference elected against hosting seasons amid the uncontrolled virus outbreak:
“Well, the biggest argument is that nobody has told us that it’s poorly advised to go forward and do what we are doing. If we get to the place where our doctors and scientists say, ‘You know what? You guys have got two wheels off the tracks and you’re headed for a train wreck,’ we will pivot that day. If it’s during camp, it’s during camp. If it’s during October, it’s during October. If it’s the week before our championship game, that’s what it is.”
“Making adjustments on the fly are going to be a part of this. But our medical professionals have said, ‘Go forward. Move slowly. Make small adjustments. Constantly be vigilant about changes in the environment.’ That’s what we’re listening to. And they have told us that it’s safe to move forward on that basis. When they tell us otherwise, we will be listening to that as well.”
In an official statement shared by the Big 12 earlier in the day, Bowlsby said:
“The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week. 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.”
According to the Big 12 press release, all non-conference games must be concluded before Sept. 26, when the league slate is set to begin.