Northwestern's Ryan Field. (Google Maps)

The Big Ten released its coronavirus-shortened 2020 football season this morning. But even the conference commissioner concedes the games may never be played.

The Big Ten had previously cancelled all non-conference games, costing Northwestern and other Big Ten teams three games apiece.

The new schedule has each team playing ten conference opponents, with some bye weeks included for potential rescheduling.

But Commissioner Kevin Warren told the Big Ten Network “there is no guarantee we’ll have a fall sports or football season,” due to uncertainty about the potential spread of COVID-19 among players and coaches.

The new Northwestern schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 5 at Penn State.
  • Sept. 12 at home against Wisconsin.
  • Sept. 19 at Michigan State.
  • Sept. 26 at home against Maryland.
  • Oct. 3 at Iowa.
  • Oct. 17 at home against Illinois.
  • Oct. 24 at home against Nebraska.
  • Oct. 31 at Purdue.
  • Nov. 14 at Minnesota.
  • Nov. 21 at home against Michigan.

The Wisconsin game was scheduled for Wrigley Field, but has been moved to Evanston. Michigan was not on the original schedule, but has been added.

Several Big Ten teams, including Northwestern, have already seen players test positive for COVID-19. The Wildcats had only one, but has reported that 28 Rutgers players have had positive test results.

Northwestern has paused workouts. A spokesperson for the athletics department says the Wildcats hope to resume practice later this week.

Meantime, an organization called College Athlete Unity, which claims to represent athletes from colleges and universities across the United States and Canada, issued a series of demands to the Big Ten, including third-party oversight of COVID tests, three tests a week for athletes in season, plus testing on the day of competition.

The group also wants short and long-term coverage for of out-of-pocket COVID medical expenses for athletes. The demands were first published in Players Tribune.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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