NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Coach Greg Schiano’s on-again, off-again return to the Rutgers sidelines is on again after the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted Wednesday to resume the Big Ten football season on Oct. 23.
The team’s return to play an eight-game schedule will come with several new health protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Big Ten will adopt daily, rapid COVID-19 testing of all athletes and others associated with each football program.
Football players who test positive will sit for at least 21 days before returning to competition. They will also undergo cardia testing before being cleared by a cardiologist.
According to published reports, games will be attended by family members only.
“This is an approach that recognizes changing local health conditions, improvements in access to near-instantaneous antigen testing and an evolving understanding of effective health protocols,” according to a statement released by the Rutgers Athletics Department.
It is unclear how Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway voted today. A Rutgers spokesperson told TAPinto New Brunswick that individual votes are confidential and that Holloway "voted his conscience."
In a wide-ranging interview with NJ Advance Media last week, Holloway said Rutgers would not change its vote on resuming college athletics until there is better testing and the coronavirus is under control in other places around the country. It is unknown if Holloway was satisfied by the new testing protocol.
Wednesday’s announcement represents a complete reverse field for the conference.
The Big Ten on Aug. 11 postponed its fall sports seasons, including football, because of concerns for the pandemic. The schools voted 11-3 to postpone the sports, with only Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa electing to proceed, according to ESPN.com.
Although that seemed to be the final word, conference commissioner Kevin Warren formed a return-to-competition task force. That group made a presentation to the school’s presidents and chancellors this past weekend. After a vote was taken to return to the field.
COVID-19 has threatened to put a damper on one of Rutgers’ most anticipated seasons in years – or as Athletic Director Pat Hobbs has termed it, “the next great chapter for Rutgers football.”
Schiano, who was given an eight-year, $32 million deal to return to the school that he led to six bowl games (won five) over his final seven years at the helm during his first term.
Rutgers’ season will consist of eight conference games. The Big Ten will also host conference championship and consolation games.
The fate of Rutgers’ other fall sports is unclear as the Big Ten did not reveal a plan to proceed with those sports seasons.