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NCAA Jul 10, 2020

Big Ten soccer programs to play conference-only schedule this fall

Men’s and women’s soccer teams in the Big Ten will only play games against in-conference opponents this season, as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This restriction will be applied for each of the Big Ten’s varsity fall sports, including cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball.

With Thursday’s decision, the Big Ten became the third NCAA Division I conference to announce a significant alteration to its fall sports plans. The Ivy League has cancelled sports through at least the end of 2020, while the ACC has delayed its competition start date until at least September 1.

On the men’s soccer side, the Big Ten is composed of the following teams: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and Wisconsin.

A total of 14 women’s soccer programs compete in the Big Ten: Wisconsin, Michigan, Rutgers, Penn State, Iowa, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan State.

While the conference-only format will allow most Midwest-based Big Ten teams to significantly reduce travel during the upcoming season, the University of Maryland men’s and women’s soccer programs will be the biggest geographic outlier.

See below for the full statement released on Thursday by the Big Ten:

“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.”

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