Illinois chancellor says B1G made 'tough but right decision' to postpone fall sports
University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones has come out in support of the B1G’s decision to postpone the fall sports season in 2020. He says the conference made the “tough but right” call last week.
Last week, the B1G was the first Power 5 conference to announce that it would postpone fall sports — including football — until the spring. That decision came six days after the league released a revised schedule with plenty of flexibility.
However, the conference cited so many unknowns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including long-term effects, contact tracing, testing policies and other uncertainties as the reason behind nixing the fall slate. In an interview with CBS 2 Chicago anchor Ryan Baker, Jones said there were several factors that went into the decision.
““I can tell you for all of us, and I hope people understand, that this was not an easy decision,” Jones said during the interview. “Because lest they forget, they had rolled out the schedule about a week before with what the season was going to look like. So this is not something that we were planning in advance to make this ultimate decision. But in the back of our minds, we always knew this was a possibility.”
Jones said that there was no one key issue that everyone focused on. Instead, there were multiple factors.
“We made it very, very clear that testing, rigorous testing, was an absolute requirement for us to begin any kind of fall sports season, including football,” Jones said. “But you also are maybe aware of the issue of myocarditis, the heart muscle disease that is an outgrowth of COVID-19 that seems to be more prevalent among student-athletes particularly those that are involved in rigorous kinds of sports.”
In the B1G, there’s been extreme criticism for the league shutting down fall sports, yet still opening up campuses. Though some campuses will have an online-only model this semester, most universities are planning for in-person classes.
That includes Illinois. So what’s the difference?
“When you add many other factors that are associated with this, it’s hard to keep athletes in a bubble,” Jones said. “It’s not like opening up the university, where you can do social distance. It’s a little hard to do social distancing in contact sports.”
Earlier this week, B1G commissioner Kevin Warren sent out a statement, confirming the league will not revisit its decision.
University of Illinois Chancellor Dr. Robert Jones, defending the @bigten decision to postpone fall sports, including the college football season..due to #coronavirus concerns with student-athletes. @cbschicago @Illinois_Alma pic.twitter.com/Q9m5mOej64
— Ryan Baker (@RyanBakerMedia) August 21, 2020