Hawkeye football players taking the field in 2019. CREDIT KCRG-TV9
By CBJ News Staff
University of Iowa athletics officials are hailing this morning’s Big Ten reversal on whether to play a fall football season, calling it “welcome news” and an opportunity for the conference to demonstrate it can implement protocols to keep players safe.
The Big Ten announced an eight-game season kicking off the weekend of Oct. 24 following a unanimous vote of its Council of Presidents and Chancellors to resume sports. The about-face comes less than five weeks after the conference announced it would push all fall sports to the spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, disappointing coaches, players, fans and local businesses who relied on the estimated $120 million-plus football injects into the local economy each season.
In a statement, Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz said the team is already focusing on preparing for the start of season.
“This is welcome news for all of our players, coaches and fans,” Mr. Ferentz said. “Our focus is now to train and prepare to compete on October 23-24, recognizing the health and safety of our players is our number one priority. I am proud of the attitude and work ethic our players have displayed over the past several weeks of uncertainty. The players are very excited to play and the coaches are excited to coach them. Go Hawks!”
Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta said in a statement that the Big Ten’s decision is important for all sports.
“The seriousness of the pandemic is still very real, but I’m pleased for our student-athletes, coaches and fans that we’ve been able to create a path forward,” he said. “The medical professionals at every Big Ten institution have worked tirelessly to create strong protocols that can be consistently applied to every campus. The frequency, availability, and reliability of daily testing was a game changer.”
The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing, the conference said in its statement. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point-of-contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.
President Donald Trump, who has been vocal about resuming football in electoral vote rich Big Ten states, also praised the decision.
“Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK,” he tweeted around 9:30 a.m. this morning. “All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!” CBJ