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Big Ten to only play conference games in 2020

The B1G won’t venture outside the midwest in 2020, cancelling non-conference games in all sports including football

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines looks on during the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Camping World Stadium on January 1, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Huge news first reported by Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic: The Big Ten will not play any non-conference games in any fall sports, including football.

The conference released this statement making it official:

We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority.

To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.

This decision was made following many thoughtful conversations over several months between the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Directors of Athletics, Conference Office staff, and medical experts including the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.

In addition, the Conference announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently permitted to engage in such activities. Furthermore, Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.

While Big Ten member institutions continue to rely on the most up-to-date medical information to establish the best protocols for voluntary workouts on their campuses, in compliance with local and state regulations, the Conference is working with the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee to finalize Conference-wide protocols.

As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate.

If you were waiting for the first college football domino to fall, this is it.

This is a developing story, so we’ll continue to post updates here. Some thoughts:

* If the B1G does this 11 MAC games, all guarantee games on the road, which will go by the wayside. For a conference filled with regional schools that are struggling with enrollment anyway, this could be a brutal outcome. Those games tend to get the visiting school at least a $1 million guarantee, plus whatever they can charge donors or fans of their opponent in markup for tickets.

* If all conferences do this, what happens to Notre Dame, UConn, UMass, BYU... do they reschedule and start playing each other?

* Losing Michigan-Washington, Ohio State-Oregon, and Notre Dame-Wisconsin in Lambeau Field, just as a college football fan, really stinks.

Here’s a list of Big Ten non-conference games scheduled for 2020:

Illinois

9/04 - Illinois St.
09/12 - UConn
09/19 - Bowling Green

Indiana

09/12 - WKU
09/19 - Ball State
09/26 - at UConn

Iowa

09/05 - Northern Iowa
09/12 - Iowa State
09/26 - Northern Illinois

Maryland

09/05 - Towson
09/12 - Northern Illinois
09/19 - at West Virginia

Michigan

09/05 - at Washington
09/12 - Ball State
09/19 - Arkansas State

Michigan State

09/12 - at BYU
09/19 - Toledo
09/26 - Miami FL

Minnesota

09/03 - Florida Atlantic
09/12 - Tennessee Tech
09/26 - BYU

Nebraska

09/12 - Central Michigan
09/19 - South Dakota State
09/26 - Cincinnati

Northwestern

09/12 - Tulane
09/19 - Central Michigan
11/14 - Morgan State

Ohio State

09/05 - Bowling Green
09/12 - at Oregon
09/19 - Buffalo

Penn State

09/05 - Kent State
09/12 - at Virginia Tech
09/19 - San Jose State

Purdue

09/12 - Memphis
09/19 - Air Force
09/26 - at Boston College

Rutgers

09/05 - Monmouth
09/12 - Syracuse
09/19 - at Temple

Wisconsin

09/12 - Southern Illinois
09/19 - Appalachian State
10/03 - vs Notre Dame (Lambeau Field)