ESPN: Big Ten Likely To Cut Non-Conference Matchups For All Fall Sports

ESPN reports that the Big Ten Conference is likely to restrict its fall sports to only conference matchups – that includes college football.

Update: The Big Ten has confirmed the report as of 3:08 PM Central Time Thursday.

ESPN cites a “source with knowledge of the discussions,” who says the conference decided this week that moving to a conference-only season for fall sports was the most likely outcome. ESPN also reports that multiple sources around college football say that Big Ten presidents and athletic directors prefer a conference-only approach for the fall season in the hopes of limiting travel and making sure sports teams can be tested for coronavirus.

The move to a conference-only format would affect all fall sports. Football – which brings a great deal of television revenue at the college level – has been the headliner of these decisions, but the Big Ten also features a number of marquee women’s volleyball programs that compete in the fall season. Other fall sports in the Big Ten include men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and field hockey.

ESPN reports that Big Ten officials discussed the coming season in a conference call earlier this week. A decision to limit fall sports to only conference competition could come as early as this week, the report says.

Swimming & diving comes in the NCAA’s winter season for both men and women. But a change to fall sports would almost-certainly have some effect on the early part of the swimming & diving season, which usually runs dual meets as early as September and features a number of key mid-season invitationals in November.

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic already caused the cancellation of college sports in the spring 2020 semester, along with Championships events in many winter sports, including swimming & diving.


Update: shortly after ESPN’s report, the Big Ten released a statement confirming its intent to limit fall sports to conference competition only – with a key caveat that the move will be made “if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports.”

The Big Ten’s statement is below:

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.

Leave a Reply

6 Comment threads
15 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

1. The other Power 5 conferences will follow.
2. Now all these Group of 5, mid major D1 teams who get revenue by playing the big boys in buy games will have that revenue disappear. IE, that was part of the UCONN model, stay independent and pick up buy games for Power 5 teams needing non conf games.
3. Now watch the non revenue sports for these mid majors that have football programs start getting cut. Thought it was bad before today? Get ready.


Here’s an example.

BGSU Football is scheduled to play at Ohio State and Illinois. BGSU would lose out on $2.2 million if the Big Ten doesn’t have non conference games. That is absolutely crippling to a department that already has an extremely limited budget. This is legitimately devastating.


I had forgotten about those kinds of “payout games.” Ooph


To echo your point. The MAC schools as a whole are going to take a beating this year financially by missing those games. Most of them have at least one, if not two games scheduled against B1G schools. As it is, there are only a handful that still have a men’s swimming and diving programs anyway. Makes it really easy for AD’s to cite “loss of revenue” as justification for cutting the remaining men’s programs.


11 MAC games vs B1G teams this season


PAC12 will be next to announce conference only schedule.


At least millions of lives will be saved…


I’d estimate about 1.2 Million lives and 22 million infections saved from this measure alone.


What I’d like to know is whether the G5 teams will get buyouts for those games. Normally they would, but we will have to see.


Even worse news for non power 5 schools. Starting to significantly trend in the wrong direction.


This is big news and all, but are we still not going to report on the Supreme Speedo goggle crossover?



About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »