UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (CBS) — The Penn State Nittany Lions will not be taking the field this fall after the Big Ten Conference announced Tuesday that it is postponing the 2020-21 fall sports season. The decision is in response to ongoing health and safety concerns due to COVID-19.
In a statement, the conference said that this decision includes men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
The Big Ten said fall sports may compete in the spring and final decisions about winter and spring sports will also continue to be evaluated.
Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, said in a statement that although she is “heartbroken” student-athletes will miss out, the university supports the decision.
“I do know our student-athletes are a resilient bunch and will handle today’s news with the same resolve as our winter and spring student-athletes did and be better for it in the end,” Barbour said. “We also cannot ignore the impact this will have on our community at large, including our local businesses. We have the greatest fans in all of college athletics and we know they will be the first ones cheering our teams on when we return to athletics.”
Penn State head football coach James Franklin was a guest on ESPN Tuesday morning and gave his opinion on the direction the Big 10 should go.
“I’m not saying we should cancel the season at this point and I’m not saying we should definitely play. But the decision doesn’t need to be made right now,” Franklin said. “There’s still time, there’s still information we need to gather. And my point is why cancel the season right now when we don’t have all the information and we don’t have all the answers.”
Franklin has already lost perhaps his best player, linebacker Micah Parsons, who has opted out of the season to focus on next year’s NFL draft.
For other players, it’s not as easy a decision. Some have taken to Twitter using the hashtag #WEWANTTOPLAY.
Warren says it was about putting the health and safety of the student-athletes first.
“I take this responsibility seriously and I will continually do everything in my power to make sure that we put our student-athletes in a position to be empowered and to be elevated. It’s people first and as students understand that they are not professionals. These are amateur athletes and they deserve an opportunity to be able to participate in a healthy and safe manner,” he said.
The PAC-12 has also announced that they will follow suit and push their football season to the spring.
Temple has not made a decision on fall sports as of yet. However, they recently lost another football Opponent in UMass, who just cancelled their season.
CBS3’s Pat Gallen contributed to this report.