The Big Ten will cancel non-conference games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic if the conference is able to participate in fall sports, it announced Thursday.
It's the first Power Five conference to announce a significant alteration to the football schedule. The Ivy League previously postponed all sports until January at the earliest. The ACC is expected to follow the Big Ten and play a conference-only slate, reports Stadium's Brett McMurphy.
"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," the Big Ten said in a statement.
The elimination of non-conference games leaves teams from other conferences with holes in their schedules. A number of highly anticipated matchups involving Big Ten squads will be wiped out:
With most non-conference games slated to take place in September, the cancellations could give the Big Ten a few extra weeks to figure out health protocols.
The Big Ten said it will release updated schedules at a later date, but added it is "also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety, and wellness of our student-athletes."
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in wake of the news that he has gone from cautiously optimistic to "very concerned" that college football won't be played in 2020, according to Joey Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch.