11 mayors of Big Ten cities send a letter to the conference seeking clarity on COVID-19 protocols with football season 3 days away

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The Big Ten football season begins in three days, and the conference has yet to supply certain information regarding COVID-19 protocols.

On Tuesday morning, mayors from 11 Big Ten cities — including Evanston and Madison, Wis. — sent a letter to conference officials asking for assistance.

The letter, from Mayor Aaron Stephens of East Lansing, Mich., states the group is “respectfully requesting a few practical measures to ensure each college and university community is better prepared for the continued fight against COVID-19. The mayors have requested that the Big Ten Conference work with local and county health officials in Big Ten college communities to define population positivity rates at which it is no longer safe to host a football game given the increased community activity (i.e. social gatherings and alcohol consumption) that games tend to generate.”

The 11 mayors are from the towns and cities home to Michigan State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio State.

Few details have come from the Big Ten since conference officials announced Sept. 16 that football would return, starting with Illinois-Wisconsin on Friday night in Madison.

Questions regarding issues such as the roster threshold for canceling games have gone unanswered.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald gave some information Monday during video calls with reporters.

Fitzgerald said players will not be permitted to gather with family members before and after games as schools attempt to limit potential exposure to COVID-19.

“It stinks but we have to follow those types of guidelines,” he said. “We have learned the lessons (from other conferences) in terms of people coming from outside into our pseudo-bubble.”

Smith said the Big Ten will not fine schools or coaches who forget to keep their masks raised during games.

“We will leave it up to the individual schools and game-operation staffs to manage their sidelines,” Smith said. “I think we’ll be fine. We’ll be sensitive to a moment where (Buckeyes coach) Ryan Day is in the middle of a call and has his mask down. We will have someone remind him.”

Smith said the person in charge will be similar to the “get back” coach who reminds players and coaches to stay off the field to avoid getting penalized.

ESPN’s Heather Dinich reported Tuesday on Twitter: “If a Big Ten player or coach has a positive daily antigen test that is followed by a NEGATIVE PCR test, it is considered a false positive, and that player or coach can return to team 24 hours after test. Big Ten false positives so far LESS than .5% with about 43k tests in league.”

The Big Ten did not immediately reply for comment regarding the mayors’ letter.


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