Big Ten Conference Suspends Fall Sports Due To Coronavirus Concerns

Posted on August 12, 2020 - Last Updated on September 23, 2020

The Big Ten Conference has suspended its entire fall sports calendar.

The move comes as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase around the country.

Coronavirus cancels college sports

The presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten’s schools convened on Tuesday to talk about the situation. After some back and forth, the group voted to postpone all fall sports.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren says  health was the No. 1 factor in the decision.

“Trends have not improved, they’ve become worse. You add that up, and you’re getting ready to go into more formal practice, it’s just a level of not only concerns, but unknown risks are large. When you’re dealing with the health of human beings, it’s serious.”

The Big Ten isn’t the only conference that’s making some tough decisions. So far the MAC, Big South, Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences have all axed their fall sports as well.

More conferences will likely follow suit.

No college football could tank Indiana’s betting numbers

No college football would have a big impact on the sports betting industry.

Football is the most popular sport for gambling around the US, so no college betting this fall could tank the handles of a lot of states. Indiana alone would be missing out on tens of millions of dollars in wagers.

Indiana’s football handle nearly doubled from June to July, going from $630,000 to nearly $1.2 million. The numbers will continue going up leading into the fall, but without college football games on the board, Indiana’s football handle won’t reach its full potential.

That may end up being a missed opportunity for the Hoosier State.

This fall would have been Indiana’s first full football season as a mature market.

Retail sports betting started in the state in September 2019, with online betting in Indiana coming a month later. Football was popular during those months, but the gambling volume during those first few weeks of action would be nothing compared to the sport’s potential haul this year.

Now that the Big Ten has postponed its season, reaching that potential may have to wait until next year.

NFL betting will carry its weight, of course, but with IU and Purdue football off the board, Indiana might miss out on the sports betting numbers it was hoping for.

College football this spring?

As it stands, this will be the first fall without IU football since 1890, and the first fall without Purdue football since 1888.

But even though fall sports are off the table, the spring could hold some hope.

The Big Ten is hoping to play its football season this spring, which would certainly be a change from the usual fall schedule.

However, not everyone is so optimistic about the idea of spring football.

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh doesn’t believe that things will be any better come spring, and is advocating for the fall sports season to go on as planned.

Other conferences are also trying to find a way to get things going this fall.

Particularly, the Big 12, ACC and SEC are holding out to evaluate their options.

Football holds some extra weight in the South. If the season doesn’t happen during the 2020-2021 school year, it would be disastrous for the communities built entirely around the culture of football.

If football went on as planned this fall, it’s doubtful that fans would be able to attend games.

SEC schools alone have over $600 million at stake, and they’re trying to save as much of that revenue as possible. Playing the games, even without fans, would help save some of that income.

However, holding out for fall football might be easier said than done.

When it comes down to it, the safety of everyone involved is the priority for most organizations. As more conferences choose to postpone, the Big 12, ACC and SEC will feel increased pressure to do the same.

Spring football might end up being just as unlikely as the fall season, but at least for now, it may be the best hope that college football has.

NCAA basketball in for a strange year

Sports were put on hold this spring just as March Madness was about to start. With no postseason tournament, NCAA basketball went without a champion this year.

Now the sport is in for its second straight abnormal year.

The COVID-19 situation will probably be shaking up the basketball calendar, even though most of it takes place in the winter and spring.

Basketball still has some bleed-over into the fall sports calendar, so now that those sports are postponed, basketball’s future is also up in the air.

The Pac-12 has already made the decision to push all basketball activities back until 2021.

Other conferences are still evaluating their winter sports situations, including the Big Ten.

Depending on how that shakes out, IU and Purdue’s seasons could end up in jeopardy.

There’s no way to tell yet if winter and spring sports will end up on the chopping block. More information will come out over the next weeks and months, as different conferences start to make decisions.

Until then, sports fans will be hoping that the health crisis starts to fade come this winter.

If the US is still in the same spot in a few months, any hope for spring football and basketball could be out the window.

Jake Garza Avatar
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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