The Big 12 board of directors voted Tuesday night to allow their schools to go ahead with the 2020 fall season, the conference announced Wednesday. The conference also released its 2020 football schedule.
“I am very optimistic about moving forward,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Wednesday. “Having said that, however, if we get to a point where we have a crossroads and the information contraindicates going forward, we know that we can pivot quickly to protect student athletes and to do something different if what we’re doing isn’t working.”
During a Tuesday night conference call, the Big 12 presidents and chancellors heard from medical experts before voting, according to CBS Sports. Prior to the call, the presidents appeared to be in favor of playing the season.
“The mindset is it’s too early [to cancel],” a Big 12 source told CBS Sports before the meetings. “Unless the medical folks flip the switch, [we’ll go].”
Bowlsby said the conference would be implementing “enhanced testing,” consisting of three tests per week for football and any other “high contact sports.” He also said players who do test positive and recover will receive proper cardiac care, due to emerging evidence that even those with mild cases of COVID-19 may suffer from heart damage.
The Big 12 conference schedule will begin on September 26, which would typically be the fourth week of the football season. The teams will compete in a 10-game season consisting of 9 conference games and one non-conference game each. The annual Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma will be played at the Cotton Bowl on October 10, despite the previous cancellation of Texas’ state fair.
The SEC is now the only Power Five conference to not release a full schedule or postpone its football season. The conference appears to be leaning strongly in favor of playing, as the commissioner said the conference’s medical advisory board said they could proceed with the fall season, according to CBS Sports. Their season is set to begin September 26.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 both postponed their fall seasons on Tuesday due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The ACC released its schedule August 6, and one official previously told CBS Sports the conference “absolutely” intends to play the season.
Although not part of the Power Five, the Big East also announced on Wednesday that its schools will not hold a fall 2020 season. “The Conference will assess alternative options to stage fall sports contests during the spring of 2021,” the conference said in a statement. The Mid-American Conference, also not a Power Five member, canceled its season Saturday, also saying it would look to make the games up in the spring.