UNDATED (AP) _ A crumbling college football season took a massive hit Tuesday when the Big Ten and Pac-12, two historic and powerful conferences, succumbed to the pandemic and canceled their fall football seasons.
Five months almost to the day after the first spikes in coronavirus cases in the U.S. led to the cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournaments, the still raging pandemic is tearing down another American sports institution: fall Saturdays filled with college football.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott called the decision “extremely difficult and painful.” Despite pleas from players, coaches and President Donald Trump in recent days to play on, 40% of major college football teams have now decided to punt on a fall season, a decision that will cost schools tens of millions of dollars and upends traditions dating back a century.
Both conferences cited the risk of trying to keep players from contracting and spreading the coronavirus when the programs are not operating in a bubble like the NBA and NHL are doing. They also cited the broader state of the pandemic in the United States, which has had more than 5 million cases of COVID-19.
All fall sports in the Big Ten have been called off and a spring season will be explored.
Two smaller conferences, the Mid-American and Mountain West, had already announced the uncertain move to spring football. The decisions by the deep-pocketed Big Ten and Pac-12, with hundred million-dollar television contracts and historic programs, shook the foundation of college sports.