Sources: Big Ten commissioner prefers spring college football season
Big Ten presidents are expected to meet Saturday afternoon to discuss the future of the conference’s fall sports seasons, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told the Free Press.
And it’s possible a spring football season could be on the table.
The sources were briefed about the call but were not authorized to speak publicly about it. The Big Ten confirmed the presidents had a regularly scheduled meeting Saturday. But according to the sources, the college football season is expected to be among the topics of conversation.
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Going into the call, the sources were told Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren preferred a spring football season, although no decision has been made. The final decision on the Big Ten's fall seasons will be made by Warren and the conference's 14 university presidents, one of the sources said.
According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, "All options are on the table" for the Big Ten. "There's some presidential momentum for canceling the fall football season. It's unknown if there's enough support to make that decision today," he reported Saturday.
The presidents meeting comes hours after the Mid-American Conference — which includes Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Western Michigan — became the first from the FBS to cancel its fall college football season in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MAC will instead pursue a spring football season, commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said Saturday in a conference call.
Neither the sources nor Steinbrecher detailed how a spring season would commence. There are significant pitfalls, including playing two seasons in one calendar year and there's no guarantee a COVID-19 vaccine will be readily available by then.
Michigan and Michigan State opened fall camp Friday. On Saturday, after the MAC's announcement, the Big Ten said all schools must remain in the helmets and shorts phase of practice. It's unclear when full-padded practice will begin.
Both teams practiced Saturday morning.
The MAC's decision to cancel the season wasn't made for financial reasons, Steinbrecher said, even though the conference is set to lose millions in game-guarantee revenue from cancelled games, as Power Five conferences shifted to mostly conference-only schedules. (The ACC and Big 12 are allowing teams one nonconference game; the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 are conference-only.)
"This was a health and well-being decision, first and foremost," Steinbrecher said. "We don't know what this will mean financially."
Kent State was facing a $5 million loss in game guarantees, the most in the country among Group of Five schools. Buffalo ($2.7 million), Bowling Green ($2.2 million) and Central Michigan ($2.15 million) also were expected to see significant losses, according to data compiled by USA Today Sports.
Central Michigan's losses come from games against Nebraska ($1.3 million) and Northwestern ($850,000). Eastern Michigan will miss $1.45 million from canceled games against Missouri ($1.1 million) and Kentucky ($350,000).
Free Press sports writer Evan Petzold contributed to this report.
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