(KWWL) -- In August, the Big Ten Conference canceled the fall football season due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, it turns out, the season will happen after all.
The Big Ten made the announcement Wednesday morning, after a unanimous decision. The season is expected to begin the weekend of October 23-24.
The conference will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other people on the field to undergo daily antigen testing. According to the Big Ten, test results will be completed or recorded before each practice and game.
“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, the head team physician at The Ohio State University.
Each university will have its own Chief Infection Officer that will report data to the conference. Team and population positivity rates, based on a seven-day rolling average, will be used to "determine recommendations for continuing practice and competition," the news release said.
- Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):
- Green 0-2%
- Orange 2-5%
- Red >5%
- Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk):
- Green 0-3.5%
- Orange 3.5-7.5%
- Red >7.5%
Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:
- Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.
- Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
- Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.
Daily testing will begin by September 30.
If a player tests positive for COVID-19, they will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing, including labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI. A cardiologist must clear a student-athlete before they can return to play.
The conference said the earliest a player can return to game competition is 21 days following a positive COIVD-19 test.
Hawkeye Head coach Kirk Ferentz released this statement saying in part:
"This is welcome news for all of our players, coaches and fans. Our focus is now to train and prepare to compete on October 24. Recognizing the health and safety of our players is our number one priority."
Wednesday's news comes three days after Big Ten presidents and chancellors met with medical experts about the season.
In recent weeks, the Big Ten has faced criticism from some players and parents about canceling the season prematurely.
According to the Big Ten, updates regarding fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports, will be announced shortly.