(AP) - The Big 12 Conference reaffirmed its decision to press on with college football and other fall sports Wednesday, joining the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences in taking the field amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The move came one day after the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they would not be participating this fall. There is a chance the other two Power Five leagues will push their seasons to the spring, but that remains to be determined.
In the meantime, the Big 12 board of directors approved a plan to begin fall sports after Sept. 1 with football playing a schedule in which each team can play one non-conference game before league play begins Sept. 26. The schools will all play each other to give them 10 total games with the Big 12 title game scheduled for Dec. 12.
The league’s schools have agreed to enhanced COVID-19 testing that includes three tests per week in “high contact” sports such as football, volleyball and soccer. Rigorous testing that includes echocardiograms, a cardiac MRI and blood tests will be required before athletes can return to play. All non-conference opponents also must adhere to Big 12 standards.
“The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “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.”