The Wolverine

September 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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16 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2020 BY JOHN BORTON T he last time the University of Michigan didn't play any football in Ann Arbor, Thomas Edison patented the first phonograph. The U.S. Senate proposed female suffrage, Joseph Stalin was born, and Day Star won the fourth-ever running of the fledgling Kentucky Derby. One year later, in 1879, the Wolver- ines trotted onto a field at Chicago's Lakefront Park (later Grant Park). They took on Racine College, win- ning 1-0 and never looking back. They didn't feature any outside varsity contests in 1882, while still maintaining a team. Except for that season, they've performed every year since: at Regents Field, Ferry Field and ultimately Michigan Stadium. The Big House won't see any ac- tion this fall. It will sit silent as a graveyard at midnight on fall Sat- urdays. The buzz from tailgates and fans rushing with anticipation to- ward the stadium will become only a memory. The Wolverines have won more football games than any college program in history. But try as they might, they couldn't beat COVID-19 — or at least the threat conference presidents and their medical experts perceived it to be. Those Big Ten presidents voted to shut it all down Aug. 11. Only a week after the conference announced a league-only schedule consisting of 10 games, the vote nixed those big 10, and any others. The league stressed it made its deci- sion relying on medical advice and counsel from the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee. "Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff," noted Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presi- dents/Chancellors and Northwest- ern University President. Big Ten commissioner Kevin War- ren expanded upon that pronounce- ment. "The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every deci- sion we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward," he said. "As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Dis- eases and the Big Ten Sports Medi- cine Committee, it became abun- dantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student- athletes to compete this fall. "We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in CLOSED CLOSED FOR FOR The Big Ten Shuts Down Football, All Fall Sports

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