Big Ten cancels nonconference games

The Big Ten’s decision will impact all fall sports at Minnesota.

A cloth mask and bouquet of flowers are seen on the Goldy statue outside Coffman Memorial Union on April 1, 2020.

Parker Johnson

A cloth mask and bouquet of flowers are seen on the Goldy statue outside Coffman Memorial Union on April 1, 2020.

by Julianna Landis

On Thursday, the Big Ten conference announced it is eliminating all nonconference games for fall sports in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The move will impact every fall sport at the University of Minnesota, including football and volleyball. The Gophers’ football team was scheduled to play three nonconference opponents in Florida Atlantic, Tennessee Tech and BYU this season. 

While volleyball had not yet released a 2020 schedule, the team will not play against high-ranking nonconference programs like Texas, Stanford and Florida, all of whom appeared on Minnesota’s 2019 nonconference schedule. 

The Big Ten released a statement regarding its decision Thursday, saying this is the best call of the health and safety of student-athletes. 

“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others with our sports program and campuses remain our number one priority,” the statement reads. “To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports.”

The announcement also stated that while voluntary summer training would be permitted, student-athletes who choose not to participate in either summer or fall activities, will remain in good standing with their respective programs and would not have to forego their scholarships. 

Minnesota athletics director Mark Coyle also released a statement Thursday, agreeing with the Big Ten’s decision and also stating that the University will honor scholarships if student-athletes feel unsafe participating in team activities this fall. 

“We clearly realize there are more questions than answers right now, but we will do our best to answer those appropriately when more information is available,” Coyle’s statement read.