Big Ten Teams Struggle With Virus as Season Looms

Brock Fritz Headshot

With the Big Ten Conference reportedly scheduled to release its football schedule today, teams are continuing to fight COVID-19 outbreaks.

An Indiana offensive lineman is battling significant coronavirus symptoms, while Northwestern paused workouts after a positive test, at least 18 Illinois football players have tested positive this summer, and Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Indiana freshman lineman Brady Feeney is having complications after testing positive in July, according to a Facebook post by his mom, Deborah Rucker. The post was tweeted by the Dallas News’ Sam Blum.

“In this crazy, chaotic world where a global crisis is not being taken seriously I have decided to post my personal family crisis with the permission of my son, Brady, who is struggling with the virus,” Rucker wrote, noting that Indiana shut down workouts after Feeney and several teammates tested positive. “This virus hit my son very hard compared to most of his teammates. Here was a kid in perfect health, great physical condition and due to the virus ended up going to the ER because of breathing issues. After 14 days of hell battling the horrible virus, his school did additional testing on all those that were positive. My son even received extra tests because he was one of the worst cases. Now we are dealing with possible heart issues! He is still experiencing additional symptoms and his blood work is indicating additional problems. Bottom line, even if your son’s schools do everything right to protect them, they CAN’T PROTECT THEM!! I pray my son recovers from this horrible virus and can lead a healthy normal life!!”

The Chicago Tribune reported that it took just one positive test for Northwestern to shut down workouts. The pause may be brief, as the Wildcats worked out Friday and will be shut down until at least Wednesday. Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, Rutgers and Maryland have also shut down workouts at points this summer, while the entire Michigan State and Rutgers teams have been in quarantine at times. The NCAA is currently allowing practices to start Friday.

Related content: Rutgers Football Outbreak Traced to On-Campus Party

The University of Illinois announced Monday that 23 Illinois athletes, including at least 18 football players, have tested positive since June. Only four of the positive tests came with minor symptoms, while three of the 23 cases remain active.

“More than 100 football student-athletes are on campus, and they accounted for greater than 75 percent of the positive tests,” the release said, noting the school has tested 164 athletes weekly since workouts resumed. “There is no evidence that any of the positive transmissions came through athletic activities or by the use of campus athletics facilities.”

Minnesota will be without their All-American wide receiver this fall. Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck tweeted “This morning, Rashod informed the team that he and his family made the decision to forgo his remaining eligibility and focus on training for the 2021 NFL Draft. Rashod played a pivotal role in helping mold the University of Minnesota into an elite Big Ten program. He was a joy to coach and has developed into an NFL caliber of player. We could not be more proud of Rashod’s historic and All-American career at Minnesota.

“My job as a college football coach is to teach, educate and help our players live out their dreams. We will certainly miss him. Our program will always support a teammate who makes a decision that he feels is best for him and his family. I love Rashod and will always be there for him.” 

Related content: Big Ten Announces Conference-Only Plan for Fall Sports

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