UNL 'Fully Committed' To Big Ten; NCAA Expert Advisors Say Virus Spread Is Too High For Football

(Credit: NCAA)
August 13, 2020 - 4:25pm

Top officials say the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is completely committed to the Big Ten Conference, as the NCAA’s health advisors say it’s not safe to play football this year.

When the Big Ten announced it was cancelling fall athletics, Husker fans held out hope for some kind of football season this year – hope sparked by Coach Scott Frost’s comments that UNL was open to any option for playing this year.

But the Big Ten commissioner seemed to shoot down that possibility Wednesday night, telling ESPN quote “you can’t be in a conference and be an independent.”

UNL chancellor Ronnie Green and University of Nebraska system president Ted Carter followed that with a statement Thursday morning:

"The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a fully committed member of the Big Ten Conference. It is an unparalleled athletic and academic alliance," they said. "This has been a difficult and disappointing week for the Husker family. We all look forward to the day when we can cheer on our student-athletes, on the field and in the arena."

Meanwhile, some of the NCAA’s health advisors say other conferences should consider cancelling as well.

Dr. Colleen Kraft is a fellow at the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a member of the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel. She says teams still going forward are taking steps to mitigate risk.

"But I do predict, because we’ve already been seeing it in those that have been very diligent, that there will be transmission and they will have to stop their games," Dr. Kraft said. 

Dr. Carlos del Rio, also an IDSA fellow and member of the advisory panel, says the United States isn’t in a position to be starting sports again.

"My advice is that we hold off and we control this virus. That should be our priority #1 as a nation.”

Dr. Brian Hainline is NCAA senior vice president and chief medical officer. He said universities that continue with sports this fall are required to follow the NCAA's COVID-19 plan. 

"I think the greatest risk when it comes to football is when you have one team competing against another team and you have to be certain that both teams have been following very strict standards," Dr. Hainline said. 

The Big Ten’s decision to cancel includes all fall sports, not just football. A statement says they’re still evaluating whether to go ahead with winter and spring sports.

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