Big Ten athletes not wanting to compete during the coronavirus pandemic won’t lose their scholarships or place on their respective teams for the 2020-21 season, the league announced Thursday.
The statement came as part of the Big Ten’s move to reduce fall sports schedules to conference-only games to allow more time to deal with COVID-19 issues.
“We’re honoring their scholarship 100 percent,” Commissioner Kevin Warren said on Big Ten Network. “Their status on the team will not be impacted at all in a negative matter. They have that flexibility.”
The Big Ten also announced that all summer activities will continue to be voluntary for athletes in all sports, which comes on the heels of football and basketball practices officially starting in July.
Testing protocols have been in place at all 14 Big Ten institutions since athletes began to return to campus for workouts last month. Positive COVID-19 cases have been reported throughout the league.
Ohio State didn’t release their COVID-19 test numbers, but it suspended all voluntary workouts starting Wednesday after an undisclosed number of positive results.
The Gophers reported last week seven positive cases among athletes after 170 tests were administered. Football players arrived first last month. Other sports are in various stages of returning.
Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle said in his statement on the schedule change that he is in line with giving his athletes the choice to participate or not this year without losing their scholarship.