Big 12 Conference announces commitment to playing fall season
Following a flurry of recent announcements by NCAA Division I conferences postponing their fall soccer seasons to the spring, the Big 12 has gone in the opposite direction.
On Wednesday morning, the Big 12 made a public commitment to moving forward with fall sports in 2020, following a meeting on Tuesday evening by the conference’s Board of Directors. Soccer competition will be limited to in-conference play only, and games will commence after September 1.
Today’s announcement came less than 24 hours after the Big Ten and Pac-12 became the first two Power 5 conferences to call of their fall sports seasons. However, the Big 12, SEC and ACC remain largely in favor of playing.
Featuring only women’s soccer at the Division I level, the Big 12 is comprised of the following teams: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, West Virginia, Kansas, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa State.
See below for the full release from the Big 12:
The Big 12 Board of Directors last evening agreed to proceed with plans for the fall sports’ seasons.
“The Board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions” commented Board of Directors Chairman and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini. “To that end the Board has consistently relied on the advice and counsel of top medical experts to determine the viability of available options. Our student-athletes want to compete, and it is the Board’s collective opinion that sports can be conducted safely and in concert with the best interests of their well-being. We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID 19 as we learn more about the virus. If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course.”
Big 12 members have committed to enhanced COVID-19 testing that includes three tests per week in “high contact” sports, like Football, Volleyball and Soccer. Additionally, return to play protocols after positive occurrences will include an EKG, troponin blood test, echocardiogram, and cardiac MRI. Non-conference football opponents must also adhere to COVID-19 testing protocols that conform to Big 12 standards during the week leading up to competition.
“The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Opinions vary regarding the best path forward, as we’ve seen throughout higher education and our society overall, but we are comfortable in our institutions’ ability to provide a structured training environment, rigorous testing and surveillance, hospital quality sanitation and mitigation practices that optimize the health and safety of our student-athletes. We believe all of this combines to create an ideal learning and training situation during this time of COVID-19. Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome.”
In moving forward with planning for the upcoming fall sports season the Conference is also releasing its revised 2020 conference football schedule. The “9+1” scheduling model features a September 26 start date for Conference play. Each team will have a minimum of two bye dates and potentially a third bye late in the season. The Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game is tentatively scheduled for December 12. All non-conference games must be completed before September 26 and the match-ups will be announced by each individual conference member. Stadium capacities will be determined by each member institution in accordance with local and/or state health ordinances, and working with government officials.
All Big 12 sports’ competitions will commence after September 1. To ensure consistent health and safety protocols, Volleyball and Soccer matches will be limited to conference opponents only.