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Big Ten moving to conference-only schedule for fall sports due to pandemic

Big Ten moving to conference-only schedule for fall sports due to pandemic
The Big Ten becomes the first Power 5 conference to move to a conference-only schedule this fall. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

July 9 (UPI) -- The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday it will cut non-conference games for all fall sports, including football, amid "unprecedented times" during the coronavirus pandemic.

"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.

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"... 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 becomes the first Power 5 conference to move to a conference-only schedule this fall. The Ivy League on Wednesday ruled out playing fall sports this year, but the conference has yet to make a decision on whether fall teams could play in the spring next year.

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Other sports impacted include men's and women's soccer, field hockey, men's and women's cross country and women's volleyball.

The Big Ten said the updated conference-only schedules will be released at a later date. The conference also said it will continue to evaluate other sports.

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The Big Ten's decision to scrap all non-conference matchups impacts 36 scheduled football opponents -- 28 from the FBS and eight from the FCS. Six FBS schools -- BYU, UConn, Northern Illinois, Ball State, Bowling Green and Central Michigan -- were set to take on two Big Ten opponents this year.

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Some of the marquee non-conference games lost include Wisconsin's matchup against Notre Dame on Oct. 3 at Lambeau Field, Michigan's road game against Washington on Sept. 5 and Ohio State's visit to Oregon on Sept. 12.

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