The Big Ten Conference has gathered a group of medical professionals to help inform decisions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, the conference officially announced the Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, which was initially formed on March 7 at the request of first-year Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. The task force has held weekly conference calls to help the Big Ten deal with the pandemic in the short term and long term.
The Big Ten and the rest of the conferences in the nation have been off since mid-March, when winter championships and spring sports were canceled. The task force will take into account government and NCAA recommendations when deciding how students can best return to Big Ten campuses.
“These are unprecedented times in our world and the focus of any conversation taking place in college athletics right now is the health, safety and welfare of students and the public,” Warren said in the announcement of the task force. “We are truly blessed to have a collection of world-class research institutions with the resources and talented medical experts on campus that allowed us to quickly assemble this task force to address a global pandemic. We are thankful to have the task force in place moving forward to allow the Big Ten Conference to position itself at the forefront of this issue and to share best practices for the management of and response to emerging infectious diseases now and in the future.”
Dr. Chris Kratochvil, a professor and executive director of the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine, chairs the 14-member task force, which has one representative for each Big Ten institution.
“The task force leverages extraordinary expertise from across the Big Ten, tackling COVID-19 related issues important to student-athletes and athletic programs,” Dr. Kratochvil said. “Strong participation by all of the Big Ten universities has provided for a robust and synergistic team. The group serves as a resource to the entire conference, addressing current infectious disease concerns, while preparing the Big Ten for the safe resumption of athletic activities in the future.”