The Big Ten
August 20, 2020

The Big Ten Conference’s decision last week to postpone the fall athletics season, the latest coronavirus-driven disappointment for sports fans, shows the conference has its priorities straight, Maryland School of Public Health Dean Boris Lushniak, Rutgers School of Public Health Dean Perry N. Halkitis and fellow public health experts wrote in The Baltimore Sun.

With the continued uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 around the country, universities that push ahead with fall sports are gambling with student-athletes current and future health, they wrote.

"It was the right decision, and it was made for the right reasons.

"From the beginning of the pandemic, Big Ten officials have put the health of student athletes in the forefront of any discussion about how to proceed—and rightly so, because universities exist first and foremost to educate students. In early March the conference formed its first-ever Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, which has met at least weekly to provide unbiased medical advice to ensure the health, safety and wellness of Big Ten students, coaches, administrators and fans.

"While we understand why many people are disappointed by this decision, the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 nationwide makes it impossible to move forward with a competitive football season in a way that does not present considerable risk for athletes and others."

Read the rest in The Baltimore Sun.

Dr. Boris D. Lushniak (lushniak@umd.edu) is the dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, Dr. Perry N. Halkitis (perry.halkitis@rutgers.edu) is the dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, and Dr. Brian C. Castrucci (castrucci@debeaumont.org) is an epidemiologist and president and chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation. He also serves on the Dean’s Council for the UMD School of Public Health.

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The Baltimore Sun: The Big Ten put the health of student-athletes first. It was the right decision.

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Boris Lushniak