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Big Ten cancels all nonconference games on fall sports schedule

Other Power 5 leagues likely to follow suit as pandemic continues to spread

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First, the Ivy League said ‘no thanks’ to sports for the remainder of 2020. And then on Thursday, the Big Ten Conference announced it was canceling all of its nonconference games in every fall sport.

At this point, the Pac-12 Conference — including Colorado’s season-opening football date at Colorado State — likely isn’t far behind.

The latest domino to fall for NCAA athletics amid the COVID-19 pandemic toppled from the Big Ten headquarters, where the league on Thursday announced the end of its entire nonconference slate this fall.

For football, that means the end of a number of the league’s marquee early matchups, including Ohio State’s scheduled visit to Oregon on Sept. 12 and a highly anticipated matchup between Notre Dame and Wisconsin on Oct. 1 at historic Lambeau Field.

Only one other lost football matchup — Michigan’s season-opening visit to Washington, which had been slated for Sept. 5 — will impact the Pac-12 landscape. However, in a week in which the coronavirus has spread rapidly, the fallout in NCAA athletics is beginning to resemble March, when the Pac-12 went from announcing its men’s basketball tournament would not host fans beginning with the quarterfinals to canceling the remainder of the tournament to watching the NCAA Tournament get canceled in less than 24 hours.

None of the other Power 5 conferences have yet to announce a similar football plan as the Big Ten, but canceling the nonconference schedules and even attempting to push the football season into the spring are outcomes that are beginning to feel a little more inevitable with each passing day.

On Thursday, the New Mexico Activities Association, the governing body for that state’s high school sports, announced it was pushing the football and soccer seasons to the spring. And even in Texas, a hotbed for high school football as well as the coronavirus, the Dallas Independent School District superintendent told NBC News he seriously doubts the high school football season will unfold as planned.

The Big Ten’s announcement also leaves an additional hole in the schedule of the CU volleyball team, which was set to host Illinois and Iowa in September as part of the annual Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge. After opening the season at CSU on Sept. 5 — the Buffs’ first visit to Fort Collins since 1996 — the CU football team is slated to host Fresno State on Sept. 12 before a scheduled to visit Texas for a game at Texas A&M on Sept. 19 to complete the nonconference schedule.