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Big Ten Schools Realize Coronavirus Still Formidable

Paul Steinbach

Amid talk of full football stadiums in the fall come reminders that the coronavirus remains undefeated — at least for now — as two Big Ten Conference sports programs hit the brakes in the interest of athlete safety.

As reported by Dayton 24/7 Now, Ohio State University announced Tuesday that due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases all team-related activities within the football program will pause for one week, with spring drills scheduled to officially begin March 19. The Woody Hayes Athletic Center administrative offices also are closed.

Athletic director Gene Smith and head team physician Dr. Jim Borchers made the decision out of an abundance of caution. “Our decisions on the welfare of our student-athletes, staff members and those coming to our campus, and our determination as to when we will reopen and resume activities, will continue to be guided by our medical staff,” Smith said.

Likewise, COVID-19 concerns will keep the Michigan State University gymnastics team from completing its season after only two tri-meets. The program has been on pause since Feb. 25 due to COVID-19 positive cases and precautionary contact tracing measures among individuals within the travel party, according to the athletic department website.

"It's an extremely unfortunate situation, but due to the multiple quarantines and shut downs creating missed training time, out of concern for the health and safety of the gymnasts and their ability to safely compete, we decided this was in the best interest of our student-athletes," MSU director of athletics Bill Beekman said. "I'd like to thank Coach Mike Rowe and his team for all their efforts this season. Our student-athletes have shown relentless resiliency and grit, and I know they'll be back stronger and better than ever."

"I commend our team that they kept trying to finish the season, but ultimately, this is the right decision, based  on the extreme difficulty of having enough training time to safely get ready for competition," Rowe said. "I would like to thank our medical staff, Dr. Sally Nogle and Destiny Teachnor-Hauk for their never-ending hard work, as well as Bill Beekman and [senior women's administrator] Jennifer Smith for their understanding and support during these difficult times."

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