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Big Ten vote lets Husker football resume, but game attendance will be limited

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 8:51 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:19 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The Big Ten is reversing its decision regarding this year’s football season.

Big Ten presidents and chancellors announced Wednesday they have decided to allow competitions this fall, following weeks of discussions and seeking guidance from the Big Ten Return to Play Task Force.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green and Athletic Director Bill Moos answered questions during a news conference Wednesday morning.

According to Moos, attendance at the games conference-wide will be restricted to family and staff.

Oct. 17 was seriously considered as the start of the season but October 24h was chosen to buy testing time, according to Green.

Big Ten’s news release said the decision regarding other fall sports and winter sports would be announced “shortly.”

Green and Moos issued a statement ahead of the news conference Wednesday:

“We are very pleased with the decision by the Big Ten to play football this fall after carefully considering the extensive work by the Medical Committee.

The safety protocols established by the conference are the most stringent in the country, and will help protect our student-athletes, staff and coaches. At Nebraska, we have worked hard since last spring to ensure the safety of our Husker family and are confident of the steps we’ve taken. We look forward to working with the Big Ten protocols and will be ready to play on October 24.

This is a big day for our student-athletes, coaches, our city, our state, and all of Husker Nation. We look forward to seeing Coach Frost and our Huskers take the field — Go Big Red!”

— University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green & Husker Athletic Director Bill Moos

The Douglas County Department of Health said Wednesday that bar patrons are the biggest concern locally.

“Gatherings are a concern because that’s where the disease can be spread. So, please do everything that you have been doing to keep yourself safe and healthy,” Douglas County Dept. of Health Spokesperson Phil Rooney said.

Tailgating is another top concern for officials.

“We want people to remember this is not a time to let up. We have some numbers that are trending in the right direction,” Rooney said.

Rooney went on to say a lot of people at the nation’s most premiere universities have been involved in a safe return to play for athletes.

On Aug. 11, the Big Ten postponed all fall athletic competitions until 2021.

The conference was the target of national criticism for failing to thoroughly explain its decision to not play football in 2020.

Eight members of the Nebraska football team filed a lawsuit against the conference in August, while multiple league coaches challenged Big Ten officials to reconsider their stance.

The Big Ten hopes to begin to play the weekend of Oct. 23, allowing teams to practice prior to their first game. The Big Ten joins the ACC, Big 12, and SEC as Power 5 conferences playing football this fall.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has previously commented that he thought the fall sports season was manageable.

“I think the Big Ten has made a mistake in the way they’ve handled it,” he said.

President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning about the vote, noting his contribution:

Ashly Richardson contributed to this report.

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