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Big Ten reverses course, football season back on

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Barry Alvarez, athletics director, UW-Madison
Barry Alvarez, athletics director, UW-Madison

(WKOW) -- The Big Ten has announced that it will resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020.


"I am thrilled for our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans that Big Ten football – specifically Badger football – will return in October," UW-Madison Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said in a statement.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement that she's agrees that the plan put forward by the Return to Competition Committee, with its extensive safety protocols and tight controls, allows the season to begin.

The decision was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.

“Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren.

The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing.

Alvarez says starting a football season while cases spike on UW campus does give him concern, but the testing protocols make him comfortable with this decision.

"You know for the past month, up until this past weekend, our players as far as practicing, working out and all that, anything that's occurred at our facility and our stadium and our practice sites, we've been able to control, and so now as we move forward in daily testing, I think that makes me feel very much at ease," Alvarez said.

Over a month ago, the Big Ten postponed the fall season with no plans to revisit the decision. Alvarez says the change is the COPC now has answers to medical questions that they did not have before.

"The bottom line is we're going to play football," Alvarez said. "The decisions were made for the right reasons, the postponement was made for the right reasons, for the safety of our student-athletes. I think our chancellors and presidents acted prudently. They made the right decision at the time, they were open minded enough to sit back and look at the answers and the solutions for the questions that they had.

Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game.

Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.

Bland said that while football will probably begin competition before other sports, the health protocols will cover all sports. The Big Ten has also agreed to pay for the testing, which will be done in a uniform manner in all schools.

The Big Ten will begin football practices immediately. However, the UW football and hockey team still remain in a 2-week quarantine due to testing results. Alvarez said he will talk with Head Coach Paul Chryst and doctors about when they will return.

As for fans, the COPC came to the decision that no fans will be allowed in the stands. Only parents of players and staff will be allowed to attend the games.

Badger Football posted its own version of a popular meme to its Twitter account showing "Wisconsin Football is Back." The clip regularly makes the rounds of social media in different versions and was originally created pre-pandemic based on the tightly packed crowd.

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Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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