The coronavirus pandemic led the Big Ten on Tuesday to postpone its football season until the spring semester, making the league the first of the Power 5 conferences to abandon plans for games this autumn.
A Big Ten official with knowledge of the decision confirmed it to The New York Times on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because it had not been publicly announced.
The decision, after weeks of announcements from smaller conferences and some individual schools that they would not play this fall, had potentially substantial implications for the rest of college football.
The move, about five months after the virus’s threat led to the cancellation of the N.C.A.A.’s basketball tournaments, extended the greatest crisis in the history of college sports, a multibillion-dollar industry with extraordinary cultural clout. But, by stopping short of canceling the season outright, the league offered a lifeline for some of the nation’s most celebrated athletic brands.
The Big Ten’s membership includes Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Canceling the season entirely would have assuredly starved schools of tens of millions of dollars in football revenues that oftentimes balance budgets and underwrite lower-profile sports. Now some of that money may prove merely delayed, causing new pain on campuses but perhaps arresting a graver economic calamity for college athletics.
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