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Big Ten commissioner says eliminating nonconference games gives teams 'best chance to play'

Big Ten commissioner says eliminating nonconference games gives teams 'best chance to play'

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Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren isn't certain sports will return in the fall, but he said announcing the decision regarding a conference-only schedule was the right thing to do.

“Today's an interesting day, to say the least,” Warren said in an interview on BTN. “But I am very comfortable that on behalf of our chancellors, our presidents, our football coaches, all of our coaches, our student-athletes and our conference administrators and also our athletic directors, that we did the right thing.”

The Big Ten became the first conference to put forth a preliminary plan for playing college sports in the fall, including football. The news was met with some hesitance, including from Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, who said he is now “very concerned” about starting college football on time.

Still, Warren cautioned that just because the conference announced a plan, that doesn’t mean it will happen.

"This is not a fait accompli that we're going to have sports in the fall. We may not have sports in the fall, we may not have a college football season in the Big Ten,” Warren said. “This allows us to be able to just take another step in this entire process.”

Warren said much of the decision to eliminate nonconference play comes form a desire to have uniform protocols for all sporting events. For example, Nebraska and South Dakota State had two drastically different testing methods but were scheduled to play Sept. 19.

Now, all Husker opponents will be under the same Big Ten umbrella of protocols.

“When you start working outside your conference," Warren said, "you put yourself in a position where there are enough issues that we're dealing with already, but then you add on top of it the issues of travel and just the logistics associated with it. And so we felt that, at the end of the day, this decision would allows us to one, do the right thing by our student-athletes, keep them at the forefront of all of our decisions, and make sure we create an environment to give us the best chance to play."

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