NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – There’s great news for Big 10 NCAA football fans today, the conference will be playing football games this fall. The bad news is, all but four teams in the conference reside in states that require a mandatory 14-day COVID-19 travel quarantine. This means, in order to play in accordance with Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order to prevent the spread of viruses, Rutgers will have to schedule their road games. As of today, the University of Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and the University of Minnesota are the only four colleges that Rutgers’ football team can visit without facing a mandatory 14-day quarantine on their return to New Jersey.
Indiana University, University of Michigan, Michigan State, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of NebraskaNorthwestern University, Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin are schools in states currently listed in Murphy’s 14-day travel quarantine, however, those teams would have to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New Jersey to play against Rutgers.
Enter Murphy’s weird science. Murphy’s 14-day quarantine orders are meant to control the spread of viruses by groups of individuals who travel to high-risk states and come in contact with other groups of hi-risk individuals, meaning, sending one hundred or so students to another state to play sports against another one hundred students where in some cases the COVID-19 restrictions are less strict than New Jersey, puts the governor in a very awkward spot today.
Will Murphy amend his COVID-19 travel restrictions to college football?
If he does, then he’s in a tough spot, because if a college football team can travel without restrictions, surely anyone in the state can.
Here’s what Big 10 action will look like, according to the conference.
Each institution will designate a Chief Infection Officer (CInO) who will oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten. Team test positivity rate and population positivity rate thresholds will be used to determine recommendations for continuing practice and competition.
All COVID-19 positive student-athletes will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing to include labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI. Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.
In addition to the medical protocols approved, the 14 Big Ten institutions will establish a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the effects on COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The registry and associated data will attempt to answer many of the unknowns regarding the cardiac manifestations in COVID-19 positive elite athletes.
“From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students. The new medical protocols and standards put into place by the Big Ten Return To Competition Task Force were pivotal in the decision to move forward with sports in the conference,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President, and Chair of the Return to Competition Task Force Steering Committee. “We appreciate the conference’s dedication to developing the necessary safety procedures for our students and the communities that embrace them.”
President Donald J. Trump was excited to have Big 10 Football back today.
“Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped,” Trump tweeted.