The first two Power 5 conferences have officially announced the cancellation of the 2020 fall sports season, including football, in hopes of playing in the spring of 2021. After days of swirling rumors, the Big Ten and the Pac 12 both announced the decision on Tuesday afternoon following a vote from Big Ten presidents and chancellors.
Uncertainty Fuels Decision
“All the decisions we would make during my tenure here will always put the mental and physical health and wellness of our student-athletes at the center,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told the Big Ten Network. “We just believed collectively there’s too much uncertainty at this point in time in our country to encourage our student-athletes to participate in fall sports.”
“The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. “Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.”
Local Athletes Affected
There are dozens of Naperville area athletes on Big Ten and Pac 12 fall athletics rosters across the midwest in sports like soccer, golf, women’s volleyball, cross country, and football who will now have to wait until the spring of 2021 at the earliest to compete.
Women’s soccer, football and women’s volleyball are the most affected in terms of local connections. The University of Illinois women’s soccer team alone has four Naperville natives on the roster, with Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin also fielding Naperville athletes.
Fall Football Postponed
Michigan State University is home to three former Naperville Central Redhawk teammates. Redshirt freshman quarterback Payton Thorne, Western Michigan transfer and sophomore wide receiver Jayden Reed and sophomore wide receiver Cade McDonald.
The University of Illinois has junior wide receiver Donny Navarro, a Neuqua Valley grad, who went from walk on to earning a scholarship last season. There are also two Benet Academy alumni on the Illini roster in junior fullback/linebacker Alec McEachern and redshirt freshman long snapper Aidan Hall.
Another Benet Acdemy grad, Jack Eschenbach, is a redshirt sophomore tight end at the University of Wisconsin.
Metea Valley graduate Bryce Effner is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman at Penn State University.
Other College Sports Cancellations
While the Big Ten and Pac 12 are the first Power 5 conferences to make this decision, the fall sports postponement follows similar decisions in Division II, Division III and other Division I conferences like the Ivy League, the MAC and the Mountain West. The cancellation of Division III Fall championships means that North Central College football will be unable to defend the program’s first ever National Championship.
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