The Big Ten announced Wednesday that the collegiate football conference would resume competition starting Oct. 23-24.
Last month, the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors decided to postpone all fall sports that were set to begin in September while finding “a path forward that creates a healthy and safe environment for all Big Ten student-athletes,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren wrote in an open letter.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and coaching staff has always been my biggest concern when thing about playing a BIG Ten Football season this year,” said UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank in a statement.
UW-Madison Athletic Director Barry Alvaraz said he agreed with the initial decision to postpone the season while medical questions were “still up in the air,” but has now set sights on the football season starting.
“There was a lot of cooperation with a lot of people that allowed this to happen,” Alvarez said in an interview with the UW Athletic Department. “The bottom line is we allow our student-athletes to get back on the field and play and that’s what they love to do.”
Plans to move forward with the football season will require daily antigen testing of student-athletes, coaches, trainers and anyone else present during practices or games. Additionally, players will undergo thorough cardiac evaluations and a data registry of those results will go towards studying the impact of COVID-19.
Public Health Madison and Dane County released recommendations that people not gather to watch football games.
“The reality is that it’s not possible to have a traditional football season without substantially increasing COVID-19 transmission,” said PHMD Director Janel Heinrich.
The health department also said that as of a Wednesday press release, 42 UW-Madison football players and team staff have tested positive for the virus.
The UW-Madison Badger football team has not updated their season schedule, however they confirmed their participation in nine total games, four away, four home and one championship game to be determined, in a tweet Wednesday.
Once the football schedule is released, fans will not be able to purchase tickets to attend games in-person. Only parents of student-athletes will be allowed in the stands.
The decision to resume parts of the fall athletic season comes one week after UW-Madison moved to remote-only classes and quarantined thousands of students. Cases among young people age 18-24 are spiking throughout the state. Other Big Ten universities are also seeing their numbers swell.