Big Ten changes course, aims for October start to football

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FILE – In this June 4, 2019, file photo, Kevin Warren talks to reporters after being named Big Ten Conference Commissioner during a news conference in Rosemont, Ill. Leaders of six state legislatures in the Big Ten footprint have sent a letter to commissioner Kevin Warren asking the conference to reconsider its decision to cancel the fall football season. The letter is written on the letterhead of Michigan House speaker Lee Chatfield and also signed by statehouse leaders from Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

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 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.

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 Donald 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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