Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald: 'I'm ecstatic for our guys to be able to play the game they love'
Wednesday was a big day in the B1G. After deciding to postpone the fall football season a month ago, the league reversed course and reinstated a 2020 season, which is set to begin the weekend of Oct. 24.
It was something that had been expected since the weekend, when conference decision-makers were reconvening to reconsider an outlook for a fall season. Now, a nine-game, nine-week schedule is in place, which will come to an end on Dec. 19.
Speaking with Big Ten Network on Wednesday after the news broke, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said he was excited for his student-athletes to get the opportunity to compete again.
“I’m excited for our student-athletes and their families, especially our seniors,” Fitzgerald said. “This has been a process — I’m just thankful for our medical experts, for our conference, our presidents and chancellors and ADs and other coaches.
“To see that we’ve gotten a lot of the questions answered that, when we took our pause, are now answered, now it’s time to go execute on that. But I’m ecstatic four our guys to be able to play the game they love with their teammates, and across the board for all of our B1G student-athletes.”
The B1G will reinstate the season, but not without strict protocols. Student-athletes, coaches and staff will undergo antigen testing everyday, beginning no later than Sept. 30. If a student-athlete tests positive, he may not return to game competition for at least 21 days from the date of the positive results, and teams that experience a 5% infection rate must halt all practices and competitions for a minimum of seven days.
Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour also said that there will be no general fans in attendance, as part of a conference-wide policy. Family of players and staff could be permitted on a school-by-school basis.
Fitzgerald said it’s been a roller-coaster ride in the B1G since the decision to postpone was made on Aug. 11, but he’s looking forward to a return.
Below is the complete interview:
Talkin' Ball (finally) 🏈@coachfitz51 with @BTNDaveRevsine on @BigTenNetwork this morning. #GoCats pic.twitter.com/htyJirX5vA
— Northwestern Football (@NUFBFamily) September 16, 2020