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Notre Dame-Wisconsin canceled; Big Ten going to conference-only schedule for fall sports

| Thursday, July 9, 2020

The landscape of college football changes more and more each day as it was just announced Thursday that the Big Ten will be the first conference to implement a conference-only schedule for fall sports, including football.

“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority,” The Big Ten said in a statement put out by conference officials.

In addition to football, if other fall sports are allowed to commence based on medical advice, Big Ten conference officials said, sports such as men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball will also be limited to Conference-only schedules.

“Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated,” the statement said. “By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”

As a result, Notre Dame’s game against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. has been canceled. Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick put out a statement Thursday saying he and Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez are planning to have the teams compete at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2021 as planned while setting up a future date to fulfill the game in Lambeau.

Back in March, conference basketball tournaments were canceled one after another in a domino effect culminating in the NCAA Tournament’s cancellation, and the Big Ten seems to be starting up a similar trend in college football. Other conferences may not be far behind.

“Multiple industry insiders said they expect the Pac-12 to make a similar decision as the Big Ten in the coming days,” a report for The Athletic said.

There has been talk that, should the Pac-12 render Notre Dame unable to take on USC in Los Angeles to end the regular season on Nov. 28, the Irish could face fellow Independent BYU in the season finale as the Cougars are slated to take on Pac-12 member Stanford on the same day.

Regardless, ACC commissioner John Swofford said months ago that Notre Dame will have a place amid the ACC should other conferences go the route of the Big Ten.

However, Swarbrick, in an interview with ESPN, said he feels the college football season starting on time is “less likely.”

“It has grown more pessimistic over the past two weeks, but I’m not to a point to say we shouldn’t continue to plan for the potential to open on time,” Swarbrick said. “… We have to shift our allocations a little bit –– a little more time on planning the alternatives, and a little less time on planning routine go-forward.”

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