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Big Ten Colleges Will Only Compete Within Conference This Fall

Ohio State football helmet
Brynn Anderson

The Big Ten announced Thursday that its member colleges, which include the Ohio State Buckeyes, will stick to in-conference competition during the upcoming fall season—if the season happens at all. 

The announcement affects cross country, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, and, of course, football.

"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," a Big Ten press release states.

For Ohio State, the move shaves three games from the beginning of the football team’s schedule: the September 5 opener against Bowling Green, another home game against Buffalo, and a high-stakes road match up against Oregon.

Still, moving to in-conference play is not a guarantee that sports will go forward. The press release frames the restrictions as occurring “if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports… based on medical advice.”

The Big Ten clarified that student-athletes who decide at any point to opt out of participating due to COVID-19 won’t risk their scholarships and will remain in good standing with their teams.

The Big Ten's move comes a day after Ohio State suspended all voluntary athletic workouts on campus, following a round of COVID-19 testing among student-athletes. The school didn't say how many tested positive, but those athletes must self-isolate for 14 days and receive daily checkups from the athletic department's medical staff.

The Ivy League announced Wednesday it would not play sports this fall at all, but suggested it may move some seasons to the spring.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.