Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren Writes Open Letter to Big Ten Community

Kevin Warren Big Ten Commissioner

COLUMBUS – After a hard-fought effort by Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and other Big Ten football players to reinstate the 2020 fall football season, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren released an open letter to the Big Ten community on Wednesday stating that the decision will not be revisited.

You can read the full statement from the conference below.


I write on this occasion to share with you additional information regarding the Big Ten Conference’s decision to postpone the 2020-21 fall sports season. We thoroughly understand and deeply value what sports mean to our student-athletes, their families, our coaches and our fans. The vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited. The decision was thorough and deliberative, and based on sound feedback, guidance and advice from medical experts. Despite the decision to postpone fall sports, we continue our work to find a path forward that creates a healthy and safe environment for all Big Ten student-athletes to compete in the sports they love in a manner that helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protects both student-athletes and the surrounding communities.

As you are well aware, we are facing a complicated global pandemic with the SARS-CoV-2 virus discovered in November 2019. The first medically confirmed cases did not appear in the United States until January 2020. Over the course of the past seven months, the U.S. has recorded more than 5.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 resulting in more than 170,000 deaths, with more than 22 million confirmed cases and 780,000 lives lost around the world.

We understand the disappointment and questions surrounding the timing of our decision to postpone fall sports, especially in light of releasing a football schedule only six days prior to that decision. From the beginning, we consistently communicated our commitment to cautiously proceed one day at a time with the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes at the center of our decision-making process. That is why we took simultaneous paths in releasing the football schedule, while also diligently monitoring the spread of the virus, testing, and medical concerns as student-athletes were transitioning to full-contact practice.

While several factors contributed to the decision to postpone the 2020-21 fall sports season, at the core of our decision was the knowledge that there was too much medical uncertainty and too many unknown health risks regarding SARS-CoV-2 infection and its impact on our student-athletes.

Listed below are the primary factors that led to the Big Ten COP/C decision:

  • Transmission rates continue to rise at an alarming rate with little indication from medical experts that our campuses, communities or country could gain control of the spread of the virus prior to the start of competition.
    • As our teams were ramping up for more intense practices, many of our medical staffs did not think the interventions we had planned would be adequate to decrease the potential spread even with very regular testing.
    • As the general student body comes back to campus, spread to student-athletes could reintroduce infection into our athletics community.
  • There is simply too much we do not know about the virus, recovery from infection, and longer-term effects. While the data on cardiomyopathy is preliminary and incomplete, the uncertain risk was unacceptable at this time.
  • Concerns surrounding contact tracing still exist, including the inability to social distance in contact sports pursuant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. While risk mitigation processes (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, proper hygiene, etc.) can be implemented across campus for the student body population, it became clear those processes could not be fully implemented in contact sports.
    • With the start of full-contact practices and competitions, it became increasingly clear that contact tracing and quarantining would risk frequent and significant disruptions to the practice and competition calendar.
    • Accurate and widely available rapid testing may help mitigate those concerns, but access to accurate tests is currently limited.
    • Significant concerns also exist regarding the testing supply chain, generally, for many of our institutions.

Financial considerations did not influence the COP/C decision, as the postponement will have enormous adverse financial implications. We understand the passion of the many student-athletes and their families who were disappointed by the decision, but also know there are many who have a great deal of concern and anxiety regarding the pandemic.

Moving forward, we will continue to build upon the framework that our medical experts have developed over the past five months while we take the opportunity to learn more about the virus and its effects. As we expand upon a plan to allow our student-athletes to compete as soon as it is safe to do so, we will keep our focus on creating protocols and standards set forth and established by our medical advisors that are responsive to the medical concerns evaluated by our COP/C.

To that end, the Big Ten Conference has assembled a Return to Competition Task Force consisting of members from the COP/C, sports medicine and university medical personnel, Athletic Directors, Head Coaches, Faculty Athletic Representatives and Senior Women Administrators to plan for the return of fall sports competition as soon as possible. In evaluating winter/spring models, we will explore many factors including the number of football games that can reasonably be played from a health perspective in a full calendar year while maintaining a premier competitive experience for our student-athletes culminating in a Big Ten Championship. The Big Ten Conference will continue to collect feedback from student-athletes, families, and other constituents and remains in active discussions with its television partners regarding all future plans.

We have tremendous appreciation and understanding regarding what participation in sports means to our student-athletes, their families, our campus communities and our fans. We will continue to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes. We appreciate the passion of the Big Ten community and will harness that energy towards providing the best possible experience for all Big Ten student-athletes.

Kevin Warren
Big Ten Conference

15 Responses

  1. I love it when people say it is the right decision or the wrong decision but they have no skin in the game. Let the people with skin in the game decide if they wish to play in all sports or not. The decision is their decision and not mine just like football players decide to play and risk spinal injuries, brain injuries, acl injurines.
    Honestly if you ask a healthy 20 year old athlete that they had to chose one injury from above or covid 19, which they have almost the same chance of getting anyway from training and being on a college campus, which do you think they will chose? How many of you honestly think any of them would not chose Covid19?

    So I guess since we along with the Presidents of the Universities and the Big Ten Commissioner are much more intelligent and have much more love in our hearts than their own parents and the players themselves have for themselves that we now here and forever must ban the playing of football on all Big Ten College Campuses. The risk of spinal injuries, brain concussions, acl tears, and other injuries much more harmful than covid 19 is just too great to allow another down of football in any month of the year.

    If this story was not so harmful it would be hilarious. I mean really could you actually write a movie script where The Big Ten Commissioner is telling all players and parents that it is too dangerous for your children to play fall sports, but my own son will play football this fall with my blessing. You can make excuses for him and blame others all you want, but like Harry S. Truman said the buck stops here and athletics in the Big Ten stops at the footsteps of the Big Ten Commissioner. I do truly wonder if common sense exists on this planet any longer.

    I guess if I was a parent or athlete in the Big Ten this season and I wanted to play I would put my name in the transfer portal and I would recommend to every other athlete in the Big Ten to do the same thing. I would further recommend that all high school athletes who have committed to a Big Ten School remove their pledge and open up their recruitment again. Imagine if every athlete and every recruit in the Big Ten did this? That is what I would do but of course I do not have skin in the game so I will leave it up to all of you who do actually have skin in the game. What a novel idea that is.

  2. Maybe I missed something, but I don’t believe this was Kevin Warren’s decision. From the text: “The vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports .” If you don’t like the decision, blame them, not Warren. There is no doubt that had Warren made this decision by himself in a vacuum, he would already be gone. But hey, every unpopular decision needs a scapegoat.

  3. In his first big decision and hopefully his last,he has denied these great players in this league a chance to play fall sports.I wouldn’t blame them to opt out and transfer out of this league,I wish The Ohio State would petition to play football in the fall,oh I forgot it won’t be REVISITED.Jim Dalany please come back!

  4. I’ve seen CYA BS before, but this letter…. wow.

  5. Left out something. PS my son is playing football in the SEC this fall in Mississippi

  6. Kevin Warren would seem more creditable with his decision if his son had opted out do to the virus

  7. Many many legal words that amount to tap dancing. Warren is not able to run the Big Ten. He is responsible for promoting the best interests of the BT, he hasn’t done that but he has given the SEC a decided advantage since they are playing. Ironic that his Son attends an SEC school.

    Warren is a disgusting executive who has had so many jobs that were not successful, yet the BT gets stuck with him. Who recommended him? Who promoted his cause ….. be interesting to know how the heck he got the job.

  8. This guy is no Jim Dalany,this guy pulled the plug to soon,Dalany might have made the same decision but not this soon.He would have looked into it more thouroughly.Why doesn’t Kevin Warren revisit the medical team that okayed other conferences to play fall football especially where his son is playing.Im disappointed in the Big Ten for making a decision this soon.I wish Jim Dalany would REVISIT and come back! GO BUCKS!

  9. Hypocrite. If he honestly believed what he was shoveling, he would tell his son not to play…

  10. I think it’s safe to safe Mr. Warren is a complete reason to not be playing, just like the high school players..this is ridiculous.

    1. 100% agree. Mr. Warren is one who is “ in over his head “ for sure.

  11. It’s the right decision and the sane decision. The hope has to be that this doesn’t turn into a two year hiatus from sports.

    The ncaa should look at allowing athletes to bubble away from regular students through housing and online courses while this courses through the country, next year. If they want a season and the revenue that goes with it. That should be a conference decision, not the ncaa. Students are the most likely source of infection in a college setting, with or without a bubble.

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