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Big Ten Won’t Hold Media Days like Normal this Year

May 22, 2020

No Shake Shack for the Hail Varsity crew this time around. 

Maybe.

Not that the second-best Chicago eatery (what up, Gino’s East) being unavailable to our team is the most pressing matter at the moment, but the Big Ten announced a kinda-sorta announcement Friday afternoon about the annual Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon to be held in late July in Chicago.

“Following discussions with Big Ten member institutions, the Big Ten Conference announced today that the 2020 Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon scheduled to take place July 22-23 in Chicago will not be held as scheduled in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans, partners and media,” the conference said in a release. 

“The Conference will continue to monitor developing information and continue to consult with medical experts to determine the appropriate dates and format for our annual event.”

So the event is postponed, but it’s not canceled.

There’s some open-endedness to the release that would lead you to believe maybe the gathering is merely going to be rescheduled for a different weekend. Perhaps it’s still held in-person. Perhaps it’s virtual. Hundreds of media members in a hotel ballroom potentially endangering Big Ten coaches, athletic directors, and player leaders might not be the best course of action, though. 

Big 12 Media Days, originally scheduled for July 20-21 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, was moved to a virtual format in early May. Shortly after, the Pac-12 decided to move its upcoming media day to a virtual format as well. The event was originally scheduled for July 29 in Los Angeles. 

The Pac-12 and Big 12 joined the Mountain West, AAC, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA in moving their media days to an online format. The SEC hasn’t formally addressed its media days event, but announced Friday that student-athletes would be able to start returning to campus on June 8. 

It seems the Big Ten is kicking the can down the road until the picture of what two months from now will look like gets a little less fuzzy. That has been the approach in more ways than one. 

The conference has acted as a point of guidance, but left decisions on return-to-campus models up to the individual member institutions. 

Illinois announced its own plan Friday. 

These student-athletes will return according to a detailed plan developed by DIA, led by its sports medicine staff, in consultation and collaboration with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District; Carle physicians; McKinley Health Center; SHIELD, the University’s committee tasked with developing testing protocols for the campus; and the Big Ten Conference. Through its partnership with SHIELD, DIA will pilot a return protocol that the University can further refine for the potential arrival of the student body in the fall. 
DIA’s plan follows the timeline recently announced by the NCAA, which will allow voluntary workouts to resume on campuses as of June 1, and aligns approximately with similar plans being developed by other Big Ten institutions.
DIA will return select student-athletes to campus according to a tightly choreographed schedule that includes robust testing and initial periods of quarantine. Football and men’s basketball student-athletes are scheduled to arrive first, in small groups over a series of days in early June.  The return protocol includes initial and ongoing viral and antibody testing, initial quarantining, contact tracing, and arrangements for extended quarantine and care of any student-athlete testing positive for COVID-19. By early July, DIA anticipates student-athletes from women’s basketball, volleyball, and soccer will have returned to campus as well. DIA will evaluate the ability to return student-athletes from sports beyond these five as the summer progresses.
That closely mirrors what Iowa is doing. 

“Select coaches and staff will return on June 1 with football players to follow on June 8,” The Daily Iowan reported. “Men’s and women’s basketball players can come back on June 15. … All activities will be voluntary, and student-athletes must go through a formal clearance process in order to participate. Iowa will follow Big Ten and NCAA guidelines to ensure student-athlete safety.”

Nebraska later announced its plan for football and basketball players to return to campus starting June 1. More to come.

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Tags: 2020, Big Ten

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