The Big 12 conference stayed firm with its decision to go ahead with college football and other fall sports Wednesday, joining the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision comes one day after the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they would not participate this fall.
The Big 12 board of directors approved a plan to start fall sports after Sept. 1 with football playing a 10-game schedule, which includes one non-conference game before league play begins Sept. 26. The Big 12 championship game is set for Dec. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a release. “Opinions vary regarding the best path forward, as we’ve seen throughout higher education and our society overall, but we are comfortable in our institutions’ ability to provide a structured training environment, rigorous testing and surveillance, hospital quality sanitation, and mitigation practices that optimize the health and safety of our student-athletes. We believe all of this combines to create an ideal learning and training situation during this time of COVID-19.
“Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season, and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome.”
The conference said “high contact” sports like football, volleyball and soccer will have players tested for COVID-19 three times a week, according to the Big 12’s release. If a student-athlete tests positive for coronavirus, they must go through an electrocardiogram (EKG), troponin blood test, echocardiogram and cardiac MRI.
Oklahoma State does not have volleyball.
All non-conference opponents also must adhere to Big 12 standards. OSU will kick off its 2020 football season against Tulsa on Sept. 12 in its lone non-conference game.
“The board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions,” said board of directors chairman and TCU chancellor Victor Boschini.
“To that end the board has consistently relied on the advice and counsel of top medical experts to determine the viability of available options. Our student-athletes want to compete, and it is the board’s collective opinion that sports can be conducted safely and in concert with the best interests of their well-being. We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID-19 as we learn more about the virus. If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course.”