Nebraska official: Big Ten decision later Tuesday

Two days after Big Ten presidents and chancellors met to review information about a possible fall football season, University of Nebraska system president Ted Carter was caught on a hot microphone saying that an announcement will come later Tuesday.

Carter was speaking to Bob Hinson, director of the National Strategic Research Institute, before a news conference Tuesday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight,” Carter told Hinson, on a video posted by KETV television in Omaha.

“Oh, really?” Hinson replied. “I heard that that was happening. There’s a lot of anticipation about that. Good for you. Maybe that will get off your plate.”

Answered Carter: “Well, it never will, but it’s a good move in the right direction.”

Carter, who is not one of the 14 presidents and chancellors who will vote on the decision, was later asked about the conversation made on the hot mic.

“I think that was picked up a little out of context,” Carter told KLKN television. “All I said is there’s work going on, and we remain cautiously optimistic, like everybody else, that we’ll get to discovering when it’s safe to play.”

The Big Ten could not immediately confirm an announcement would come later Tuesday.

The league’s entire council of presidents and chancellors met for several hours Sunday afternoon with members of the return to competition task force, who reviewed the latest medical information about a safe resumption of play during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as plans for scheduling and television. The medical subcommittee of the task force also met Saturday with eight presidents or chancellors, including Ronnie Green, chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Sunday’s meeting did not result in a vote on whether to begin the fall football season.

The Big Ten on Aug. 11 postponed all the fall sports seasons, including football, because of concerns about the pandemic. The league’s presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 to postpone, with only Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa electing to proceed forward. A vote to play a fall season would require at least 60% of the presidents and chancellors (nine or more).

Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank, in a video news conference Monday with reporters, said the league would “move forward together” on a decision to play fall football or not.

“This isn’t going to be a school-by-school thing,” Blank said.

Blank, speaking Tuesday at a U.S. Senate hearing on the future of college athlete compensation, said the Big Ten would continue the postponement until questions about testing, contact tracing and heart issues related to COVID-19 could be answered.

The Big Ten’s medical subcommittee, which is co-chaired by Ohio State lead team physician Dr. Jim Borchers and Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour, outlined plans that not only included new testing possibilities, but also the latest information about myocarditis, a viral inflammation of the heart muscle, and other conditions found in athletes who recovered from COVID-19.

The league is exploring at least four rapid-response antigen testing options that could allow teams to test daily for COVID-19 and significantly decrease the amount of necessary contact tracing, sources said. The medical subcommittee includes lead team physicians from Northwestern, Indiana and Maryland, as well as experts in sports medicine and infectious diseases.

Sunday’s presentation also broadened beyond the medical component to include more specifics about how and when the Big Ten could start the season, along with possible dates and the medical thresholds that each team must meet in order to return.

A potential start date of Oct. 17 is one option being discussed, according to sources, and likely would allow Big Ten teams to complete an eight- or nine-game regular season before the College Football Playoff selections are made.

Six Big Ten teams appeared in the AP preseason poll, including No. 2 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State.