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Big Ten reverses course, football season back on

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

(READ THE BIG 10's FULL NEWS RELEASE HERE)

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.

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.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said she supports the decision.

"I support our coaches and student-athletes and want them to have the opportunity to safely compete, if possible. I believe the plan put forward by the Return to Competition Committee, with its extensive safety protocols and tight controls, allows that to happen," Blank said.

Blank adds this decision by the Big Ten will likely impact sports other than just football.

"While football will probably begin competition before other sports, these protocols will cover all sports. Updates regarding fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports that begin in the fall, will be announced by the Big Ten soon," she said.

Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez says an increase in testing has given him confidence.

"I am thrilled for our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans that Big Ten football – specifically BADGER FOOTBALL – will return in October. I want to thank Chancellor Blank for her support and thoughtfulness as we navigate these challenging situations on a daily basis. I supported the conference’s decision a month ago to postpone our fall sports seasons. There was enough question in the minds of the conference’s presidents, chancellors and medical personnel to make the decision to not go forward. Over the past several weeks, we have learned a lot and significantly improved testing and tracing capabilities. What I have seen and heard gives me confidence going forward. The health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff remains our top priority, so we will continue to emphasize proper protocols and smart decision-making. I have spoken with Coach Chryst and we both feel good about having our team ready to play when the time comes."

Barry Alvarez
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