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Big Ten puts hold on full-contact football practices

A chain crew member wears a Big Ten hat during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Maryland and Howard, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in College Park, Md.
A chain crew member wears a Big Ten hat during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Maryland and Howard, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in College Park, Md.(Julio Cortez | AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Published: Aug. 8, 2020 at 11:28 AM CDT
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CHICAGO (KCRG) - One of college sports’ biggest conferences issued a statement on Saturday indicating that football programs from its member universities will not be able to progress to the next phase in its rollout of football preseason camps.

The Big Ten Conference said that teams will not be able to go on to full-dress workouts, involving pads and other normal equipment, until further notice. Players can wear helmets during practices, but no other protective equipment, to limit contact during drills. The move comes amid concerns about player health and safety amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Each new phase of activity provides new intelligence and experience and allows us to evaluate the implementation of our Conference and institutional medical protocols in real-time,” the conference said, in the statement. “In order to make the right health and safety decisions for our student-athletes, we believe it is best to continue in the appropriate phase of activity referenced above while we digest and share information from each campus to ensure we are moving forward cautiously.”

The conference said it will keep evaluating the situation with fall sports programs each day, including “the feasibility of proceeding forward with the season at all.”

Yahoo! Sports college football reporter Pete Thamel first reported, in a post on his Twitter account, that the presidents of the Big Ten’s 14 member institutions were holding a meeting on Saturday. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg followed on that report in another tweet, saying a source told him that it was “not likely” that the group of presidents would choose to cancel the upcoming football season today.

The University of Iowa football program held its first practice on Friday, according to posts to its Twitter account. Players were seen in photographs wearing helmets but no pads. Players and coaches were also shown wearing cloth face masks.

Read the full statement from the Big Ten Conference below:

The Big Ten Conference announced today, based on the advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, that, until further notice, all institutions will remain in the first two days of the acclimatization period in football (i.e., helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear) as we continue to transition prudently through preseason practice. All other fall sports will continue to work locally with team physicians and athletic trainers to adjust practices to the appropriate level of activity, as necessary, based on current medical protocols.

Each new phase of activity provides new intelligence and experience and allows us to evaluate the implementation of our Conference and institutional medical protocols in real-time. In order to make the right health and safety decisions for our student-athletes, we believe it is best to continue in the appropriate phase of activity referenced above while we digest and share information from each campus to ensure we are moving forward cautiously.

We understand there are many questions regarding how this impacts schedules, as well as the feasibility of proceeding forward with the season at all. As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes.”

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