Tuesday the NCAA's Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced the indefinite suspension of fall sports in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Both leagues used the term "postponement" in their announcements, suggesting that football and other fall sports could resume in the spring. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren recently floated such a scenario.
While difficult, Warren said calling off fall sports was in the best interest of student-athletes.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."
The Big Ten's bombshell announcement came after Monday reports suggested the move was in the offing amid discussions involving top officials from the conference's 14 universities. The league was said to have voted 12-2 in favor of shutting down the season, according to Monday reports, with Iowa and Nebraska the lone holdouts. Nebraska, in particular, seemed very upset with Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk on NBC Sports suggesting the school could defy the Big Ten's ruling by staging sports anyway.
The Mid-American Conference was the first prominent league to call off its 2020 football schedule over the weekend, prompting speculation over the fates of the remaining FBS conferences. Mere hours after the Big Ten became the first Power 5 conference to bow out of the upcoming fall season, the Pac-12 arrived at the same decision.
The rumored postponement of fall football set off fierce debate in the sports community and beyond. Clemson superstar Trevor Lawrence was the most prominent among a group of players rejecting the prospect of a cancelled season, helping to make the #WeWantToPlay hashtag go viral on Monday.
Several Big Ten coaches appeared to publicly disagree with the decision of their universities, including Ohio State's Ryan Day, Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, Penn State's James Franklin, Nebraska's Scott Frost and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz.
President Trump echoed Lawrence's call, saying student-athletes "have been working too hard for their seasons to be cancelled."