Big Ten has confirmed that the college football season will start this fall after all, with the first games slated for the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
The Big Ten originally postponed all fall sports on Aug. 11 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but momentum has been building for weeks to allow football to be played.
On Wednesday, confirming multiple media reports, Big Ten announced it will push ahead with the new season with "significant medical protocols" in place for players.
This will include daily COVID-19 antigen tests and "enhanced cardiac screening," amid concerns raised about the virus potentially causing heart issues for athletes.
The Gophers will likely be playing before an empty stadium, given there remain restrictions in Minnesota on gatherings larger than 250.
Student-athletes, coaches, trainers and all others on the field for practices and games will be required to undergo rapid result COVID-19 tests every day, with results having to be "completed and recorded prior to each practice and game."
Anyone who tests positive using the antigen test will then have to get a more conventional PCR test to confirm the diagnosis.
Each university will designate a Chief Infection Officer to oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten Conference, with the positivity rate among players and staff being used to determine if practices and games can go ahead
Oct. 23-24 was originally slated to be Week 8 of the 10-game conference schedule that league officials released just days before fall sports were postponed. The postponed sports include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.