Michigan and Michigan State, along with programs across the country, are set to begin preseason camp next Friday, but the Big Ten has not yet given the go-ahead.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and Craig Kratochvil, chair of the conference’s Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, sent a letter to Big Ten athletic directors on Thursday, indicating there will be a decision regarding the start of camp “within the next five days.”
“We will not, and cannot, proceed with preseason camp until we are certain that we can do so safely and that will depend, in part, on testing,” according to the letter, which was published Friday by Cleveland.com. “Once we have everything in place to execute our testing protocols effectively, including the appropriate number of tests secured for all fall sports, we can make a decision as to whether preseason camp will begin as currently scheduled.”
Earlier this month, the Big Ten announced its 14 member schools will play a conference-only schedule this fall, and that includes football, but nothing definitive has been made official.
Warren, in the letter, indicated there will be an announcement regarding the Big Ten's medical policies and protocols for COVID-19 next week to establish consistent testing across the board.
Still, Warren maintains a cautious approach, as he has since the COVID pandemic suspended on-campus activities in mid-March. He has relied on medical experts from his Big Ten Task Force that includes representatives from every school.
Football programs began on-campus voluntary workouts in June, and Michigan now has student-athletes from 18 teams currently on campus. Michigan State paused football workouts last Friday and the entire program entered a 14-day quarantine and isolation after a second staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
“If we determine as a Conference that it is not prudent to compete in the fall of 2020, we will not do so, much like our decision in March 2020 to cancel the Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis,” Warren said in the co-signed letter. “Our final decision will be rooted in guidance from medical experts and in consultation with institutional leadership, student-athletes, coaches and appropriate federal, state, and local authorities.”
While the resumption of football has dominated the national conversation, the schedules for are all fall sports are being considered. The letter states the conference is looking at several options and remains “hopeful” for a September start.
The letter stressed the need for the member schools to be “adaptable to changes” as the conference decision-makers consider ever-changing medical information.
“Even issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur,” the letter states.