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Big Ten scraps nonconference football games amid continuing coronavirus pandemic

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State director of athletics is on a working group looking into how NCAA can allow athletes to accept endorsements and otherwise profit off their name, image and likeness without compromising amateurism.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Big Ten canceled all nonconference football games for the season on Thursday, announcing it will only play conference games in 2020.

The league made that announcement after reports from The Athletic and ESPN indicating as much.

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For Ohio State, that means the season-opening game against Bowling Green on Sept. 5 is off, as is a Sept. 19 visit from Buffalo.

A Sept. 12 trip to Oregon is also scuttled. That was to be the first of a home-and-home series with the Ducks that would include a return matchup in Columbus in 2021.

In a conference call Thursday afternoon, Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith said it was too soon to know if or when those games might be rescheduled.

He also explained the move by the Big Ten was designed to give the conference more control over its football schedule in a fall that is likely too be marked by more spread of the coronavirus.

“I am concerned that we may not be able to play, which is why we took the measure we took in order to try and have September available to us for conference games and give us the flexibility and control if there are disruptions if we’re able to start the season,” Smith said.

The announcement came one day after Ohio State announced it had suspended voluntary summer workouts as a result of an unspecified number of positive COVID-19 tests administered to an unspecified number of Buckeye athletes.

Buckeye football players returned to campus for voluntary workouts beginning June 8. Those workouts were paused along with basketball, soccer, women’s volleyball and field hockey.

In a schedule altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA is set to allow limited mandatory activities to begin July 13 with August 7 set as the first day preseason football practices are permitted for most teams.

Unlike several other schools around the country, Ohio State has refused to publish its number of positive COVID-19 tests, citing privacy laws.