Big Ten: What to know about protocols for players, teams in return of football

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2019, file photo, the Big Ten logo is displayed on the field before an NCAA college football game between Iowa and Miami of Ohio in Iowa City, Iowa. Big Ten presidents voted 11-3 to postpone the football season until spring, bringing some clarity to a key question raised in a lawsuit brought by a group of Nebraska football players. The vote breakdown was revealed Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in the Big Ten's court filing in response to the lawsuit. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2019, file photo, the Big Ten logo is displayed on the field before an NCAA college football game between Iowa and Miami of Ohio in Iowa City, Iowa. Big Ten presidents voted 11-3 to postpone the football season until spring, bringing some clarity to a key question raised in a lawsuit brought by a group of Nebraska football players. The vote breakdown was revealed Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in the Big Ten's court filing in response to the lawsuit. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Credit: Charlie Neibergall

Credit: Charlie Neibergall

Why is the Big Ten scheduling a football season this fall after all?

The league laid out a list of “stringent medical protocols” Wednesday as it confirmed reports all 14 teams are set to take the field in late October.

ExploreOhio State, Big Ten will take the field this fall

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” Ohio State team physician Dr. Jim Borchers, a co-chair of the league’s Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee, said in a statement.

“The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”

Here is a look at the protocols:

  • Daily antigen testing for all players, coaches, trainers and any other individuals on the field for all practices and games begins Sept. 30. This will take place prior to each practice and game, and players who test positive will undergo another test to confirm. The second test will be a polymerase chain reaction test, which is regarded as the most accurate test available and the one widely used in public testing.
  • Those who are confirmed positive will not be allowed to return to game competition for at least 21 days. That includes a seven-day re-acclimation process with the team.
  • A comprehensive cardiac testing program including labs and biomarkers, ECG, EKG and cardiac MRI also must be completed by any player who tests positive. An athlete found to have an inflammatory heart condition known as myocarditis will be ruled out for the rest of the season.
  • Data from testing will be collected and reported to the Big Ten by a Chief Infection Officer, and a cardiac registry will be established in an effort to examine the effects of COVID-19 on players in hopes of expanding understanding of the disease on elite athletes.
  • If more than 5 percent of the team and 7.5 percent of the team population (including coaches, trainers and other personnel with the team) test positive in a seven-day rolling average, the team will be idled for seven days. If one of those benchmarks is reached but not the other, the team may proceed with caution in both practice and competition.

The other Big Ten fall sports as well as winter sports that begin in the fall will resume with testing protocols as well, though specifics have not been announced yet.