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Big Ten unveils 2020 football schedule and fall sports medical protocols

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Week 1 of the 2020 Big Ten football season is slated to begin the weekend of Sept. 5.

Big Ten athletes and coaches now get free access to the Calm app making good on Commissioner Kevin Warren’s commitment to mental health Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Big Ten announced its revised schedule for the 2020 football season Wednesday, becoming the fourth Power Five conference to do so following the ACC, SEC and PAC-12.

The new slate will feature 10 conference-only games for each team — five home and five away — and the season will begin the week of Sept. 5.

“While the Conference remains hopeful for a September 2020 start in all fall sports, including football, issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur,” the conference said in a press release. “While our strategy is to continue planning for all fall sports, if the virus continues to spread among our students despite our many preventative measures, including testing and quarantine protocols, we are also prepared to delay or cancel competition pursuant to local and state public health orders or the recommendations of our medical experts.”

Additionally, Maryland announced that it won’t be allowing any fans to attend games to start the season. Though the university added it hopes to be able to amend this as the year progresses.

The Terps’ new schedule actually benefits the team. The season originally ended with four consecutive games against the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State, but now those matchups will be spread out.

Maryland will start its season on the road against Iowa, with its home opener against Michigan State on Sept. 12. Other away games will be at Northwestern, Penn State, Indiana and Michigan. Rutgers, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota make up the other teams traveling to College Park.

The regular season will end on Nov. 21 and the conference championship stays scheduled for Dec. in Indianapolis. This could be moved as late as Dec. 19, however.

With the schedule makeup, there is flexibility for the start of the season to be pushed back to Sept. 12, 19 or 26 if needed.

The Big Ten also announced that the start date for other fall sports has been pushed back to September 5, with schedules slated to be released at a later date as the situation remains fluid.

With the decision, the Big Ten also released its medical protocols, though these will be updated regularly.

Sports with a high risk of contact, such as football, will require student-athletes, coaches and staff to take a minimum of two tests per week. Other sports will have a minimum of at least one test per week. All screening will be administered by a third-party laboratory in an effort for consistency across the conference.

“Developing consistent medical protocols and testing procedures for the health and safety of our student-athletes and our athletic programs is critical,” Commissioner Kevin Warren said. “While a comprehensive plan has been developed, we also know it is essential to continue to be agile as new information and health trends become available and we will adjust accordingly.”

Teams will be able to start preseason practices Aug. 7, or earlier if permitted under NCAA guidelines.

As previously stated, participation in fall sports is optional and any student-athletes that elect to not play at any time during the rest of the summer or academic year will have their scholarship honored and remain in good standing with their team.