Big East Conference postpones fall sports season, joining Pac-12 and Big Ten

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The Big East Conference said Wednesday that it will postpone its fall sports season, joining the Pac-12 and Big Ten in pausing play out of concern for the welfare of student-athletes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Conference officials said the decision was made in consultation with the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, a group consisting of doctors, administrators, infectious disease specialists and other experts. The Big East will attempt to play out its fall sports schedules in the spring.

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“This very difficult decision came after an exhaustive review by our Presidents and Athletics Directors and followed consideration of NCAA guidance, COVID-19 case counts and trend lines nationally and in BIG EAST communities, and the many unknowns surrounding testing availability, turnaround time and travel restrictions in our 11 locales,” said Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman.

“We take pride in the high-level competition and experiences we provide to our fall sports student-athletes, and we share their deep disappointment that this will not be a normal year.”

Impacted sports include men's and women's soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and field hockey. Student-athletes on affected teams will be permitted to participate in related activities "such as practices, strength and conditioning sessions, and team meetings, consistent with individual campus policies, public health guidelines and NCAA and Conference regulations," according to a press release.

Men's and women's basketball are not yet affected by the postponement, Ackerman added. The Big East has yet to determine whether winter and spring sports will take place as scheduled.

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The Big East Conference's member schools include Villanova University, Georgetown University and St. John's University.

The postponement was announced one day after the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, two of the NCAA's "Power Five" Conferences, said they would not play their fall sports schedules due to the pandemic. The pause in play raised questions about whether the NCAA's top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision will be able to proceed with a season. College football is the NCAA's most lucrative sport, with other school sports often subsidized by its proceeds.

Presently, the NCAA's other Power Five conferences — the ACC, Big 12 and SEC — are moving forward with plans to play sports this fall.

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