Kinnick Stadium will be silent in September as the Big Ten Conference has canceled the fall sports season — including Iowa Hawkeye football games.
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz spoke with reporters after the announcment and said the release of the schedule last week had given the players hope they would see the field this fall. “Today was a tough day for them. It has been tough for all of us,” Ferentz said, “but we’ll all get through this and they’ll get through this — I am confident of that. And we’ll just figure out a way to deal with it. ”
Nebraska’s coach has indicated the school might play anyway if the Big Ten canceled the fall season. Ferentz said he has great respect for the conference and believes they should stick together. “I think it goes without saying every coach wanted to play this fall. I can tellyou again based on personal experience — every player with the exception of maybe two or three were committed based on demonstrated action that they wanted to play this fall,” according to Ferentz. “We’re refocusing on what the next step can be. And we to my knowledge have had no discusion about doing anything against what the conference decides, as much as we may want to — we are going to abide by that unless they reconsider.”
The statement from the Big Ten conference says the decision was made due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference statement says it relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee. Ferentz says he’s no doctor and understands there was a tough decision to be made.
“There were certain things that right now I think the presidents and medical experts have a responsabilty for. And ultimately I think they are really the ones who have the best vantage point about what does make sense for our campus and what make sense for our conference,” Ferentz said.
Ferentz believes a spring season would work. “I think so. I think we can do anything we want if we do it intelligently…you know we’ve got to first and foremost think about our players and what’s best for them,” Ferentz said.
U-I athletic director Gary Barta released a statement following the announcment that said:
“With the announcement today from the Big Ten Conference, our immediate focus is on our student-athletes and continuing to provide care and support. They have overcome a number of obstacles associated with this virus and handled the uncertainties with undeniable resolve. We will continue to work together and move forward. We have said from the very beginning, the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff is our first priority. Our athletics department is incredibly fortunate to have the expertise and guidance of our medical team and the UI Hospital and Clinics. Unfortunately, there were still too many uncertainties to move forward with our fall sports. The University of Iowa supports the extremely difficult decision made by the Big Ten Conference.”