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Big Ten changes course, aims for October start to football

The Big Ten logo is displayed on a football field
The Big Ten Conference plans to start football season the weekend of Oct. 24.
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all.

Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 24. Each team will have an eight-game schedule.

The Big Ten said its Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously Tuesday to restart sports. The emergence of daily rapid-response COVID-19 testing, not available when university presidents and chancellors decided to pull the plug on the season, helped trigger a re-vote.

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The Pac-12 recently announced a partnership with a diagnostic lab that will give the conference’s schools the capacity to test athletes daily. The Big Ten believes it can do the same and that it is a game-changer.

The move came amid sharp pressure from coaches, a lawsuit from players, and pressure from parents and even President Trump pushing for a Big Ten football season. The conference is home to a number of battleground states in the November election.


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