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Ohio State, Big Ten officials looking at how to safely restart football, other fall sports

Bill Rabinowitz
brabinow@dispatch.com
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, right, and football coach Ryan Day at a news conference in December 2018 announcing Day's hiring as coach.

As the college football season begins in earnest Saturday among the conferences that haven’t canceled, the Big Ten’s Return to Sports task force is facing a pivotal weekend.

Numerous outlets have reported that the conference and members of its task force committees are meeting to discuss how and when fall sports, including football, could be restarted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ohio State is well-represented on the committees. President Kristina Johnson is on the steering committee. Head team physician Dr. James Borchers is on the executive committee and co-chair of the medical subcommittee. Coach Ryan Day is on the football scheduling subcommittee, and athletic director Gene Smith is on the television subcommittee.

ESPN.com reported Friday night that the medical subcommittee will present new testing programs to the conference’s presidents and chancellors. Progress has been made with rapid-response tests since the Big Ten announced on Aug. 11 that it wouldn’t play this fall. Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska were the only schools that dissented in that vote.

One factor that played into the decision to cancel was concern about myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) caused by COVID-19. Ohio State released a study on Friday that showed four of 26 athletes with COVID showed signs, albeit mild, of myocarditis. Testing through cardiac magnetic resonance imaging can show milder forms of myocarditis.

Dr. Curt Daniels, who co-authored the study, said that the CMR testing and rapid-response COVID testing are steps in the direction of safely resuming sports.

“Any time you feel as though you can provide increased safety, you feel more comfortable with participating,” Daniels told The Dispatch. “Combining those two things would appear at least where we are today. We may be talking something different six months from now, but where we are today in the current environment and current data, these would be two tools to potentially provide a safe environment to get back to playing.”

Day appeared on ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday and again pushed for a target of October for football to resume.

“I don’t know if there’s an exact date,” Day said. “But certainly I think we need to try to get going by mid-October to try to get in the conversation for the CFP (College Football Playoff). But first things first. Let’s just make sure we can figure out a way to do this safely and then we’ll tackle that next.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch

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