Football: Big Ten releases revised 2020 schedule; players call for more robust health plans

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(Joshua Hoffman/The Daily Northwestern) Ryan Field. Northwestern’s revised 2020 football schedule was released Wednesday.

Ella Brockway, Reporter

The Big Ten Conference released an updated version of the 2020 football season schedule Wednesday morning.

Northwestern is slated to open its season on the road at Penn State on Sept. 5. The Wildcats are scheduled to face Wisconsin, Maryland, Illinois and Nebraska at home, and Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota away before a season-closing home matchup against Michigan on November 21.

The conference also announced more detailed medical protocols ahead of the 2020 season, which will include twice-weekly COVID-19 testing for football players.

Three hours later, a group of more than 1,000 Big Ten players released a statement on The Players Tribune calling on the conference and the NCAA to create a more comprehensive health and safety plan ahead of the 2020 season’s start.

The players’ proposal included calls for “objective criteria for shutting down seasons should the pandemic take a turn for the worse” and automatic medical redshirts for players who misses competition due to a positive COVID-19 result or a mandatory quarantine.

In the revised conference-only schedule — first announced by the Big Ten in July — each team kept the nine opponents originally on its 2020 slate, and added one additional cross-division opponent. Each team will have five home and five away games, in addition to two bye weeks.

The Big Ten Championship Game is currently set for Dec. 5, but can be moved to Dec. 12 or Dec. 19 if necessary.

Start dates for the Big Ten’s other fall sports — at NU, women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball — have been postponed through at least Sept. 5, with conference-only schedules to be released at a later date.

NU’s schedule was released just 36 hours after the football program had to pause its summer workouts after a positive COVID-19 test result. At least six schools in the Big Ten have had to do so at some point this summer.

While teams are now officially permitted by the Big Ten to begin preseason training camp this week, an athletic department spokesman confirmed to The Daily that NU’s workouts would not resume until Thursday at the earliest.

In a Big Ten Network interview Wednesday morning, conference commissioner Kevin Warren stressed that despite the schedule release, “there is no guarantee that we’ll have fall sports or a football season.”

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Twitter: @ellabrockway

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