Big 12 moves forward with fall season

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, a Big 12 pylon marks the end zone at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State in Austin, Texas. Big 12 schools have agreed to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place. Associated Press

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

After a nerve-wracking 48-hours in which the world of college sports saw Big Ten and the Pac-12 postpone their seasons, the Big 12 officially announced Wednesday morning that it will move forward with its own season for 2020.

The conference board convened Tuesday night to vote on the best course of action. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the board heard from medical experts at the University of Kansas as well as the Mayo Clinic, taking their insight into account.

“We found that what we thought was golden 60 days ago is garbage today,” Bowlsby said during a teleconference following the announcement. “It’s an ever-evolving environment… I think we’re very well prepared to deal with those things. I feel good about the decision going forward, I believe our board feels good about it and I think most importantly we have some clarity for our coaches and our student athletes.”

According to the conference release, student athletes playing this fall will receive three tests per week. If players are to test positive, they will be given an EKG, troponin blood tests, echocardiograms and cardiac MRI.

A revised conference schedule was also released Wednesday morning. The Big 12 has slated each of its schools to play nine conference games beginning on Sept. 26, and one non-conference game prior to that date. All non-conference opponents are expected to adhere to the Big 12’s COVID prevention guidelines.

“Our medical professionals have said go forward, move slowly, make small adjustments, constantly be vigilant about changes in the environment and that’s what we’re listening to,” Bowlsby said.

After the Big Ten and the Pac-12 made known their intentions to postpone their fall sports programs, the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference made it clear that they were looking to continue to play. Bowlsby said that it was up to each conference to decide what was best for their own schools and student athletes.

Baylor head football coach Dave Aranda met with the media following the Big 12’s announcement, saying that it felt there was weight lifted off the shoulders of his players and coaches.

“We’re excited about playing,” Aranda said. “The last two days in particular you couldn’t help but know that guys were looking at their phones during breaks and getting updates…When it became evident, you start to recap last night during meetings, and so you could just see the joy on our players’ faces. Everyone was smiling, guys were cracking jokes. They were excited.”

Aranda said he believes the Bears “can effectively play football during the COVID-19 era,” and that he has faith in Baylor’s health and wellness team, as well as in his players, to do all they can to make that happen.

“I have so much faith in them,” Aranda said. “I got a lot of faith in our team [and] I got a lot of faith in our players in terms of doing the right thing.”