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Official: Big Ten announces conference-only season; ACC, Pac-12 could soon follow

Update: The Big Ten has made it official. Boldadded.

(T)he Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. 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.

The Big Ten also announced that any athletes who choose not to participate in athletics activities due to COVID-19 fears will have their scholarships honored.

The Ivy League on Wednesday became the first Division I conference to cancel its fall football season, and now wide-spread cancellations are expected to hit the FBS level.

According to a report Thursday from The Athletic, the Big Ten will announce Thursday that it is moving to a conference-only football season this fall.

Earlier Thursday, the ACC announced it has canceled all intercollegiate competition prior to Sept. 1, bringing that league right to the brink of football season. (The first ACC football game is Sept. 2.)

Canceling the Big Ten's non-conference season would kill top-line games such as Ohio State at Oregon, Michigan at Washington, Penn State at Virginia Tech and Wisconsin's date with Notre Dame at Lambeau Field, and it would also have a devastating impact on Group of 5 conferences (primarily the MAC) that depend on Big Ten paycheck games to make their budgets work. The reason Power 5 leagues -- don't kid yourself, the Big Ten won't be alone here -- are canceling non-league games is because they can set and enforce testing standards that their non-conference opponents may not be able to meet. And, as Matt Jones pointed out on Twitter, creating a conference-only season would provide each conference the necessary elbow room to hastily change the schedule in the event of in-season cancelations. However, the SEC is not yet ready to axe its non-conference games, according to Mizzou AD Jim Sterk.

The Pac-12 and ACC, however, could be a different story.

Update: Not so much on the ACC.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.