Big Ten and Pac-12 Are First Marquee Conferences to Postpone Football

The other major conferences — the Atlantic Coast, the Big 12 and the Southeastern — will face extraordinary pressure in the coming days. College sports administrators are particularly wary of being seen as motivated by money instead of the safety of players, coaches and others, and any effort to press ahead with a season would assuredly provoke new criticism of an industry already under scrutiny by elected officials and the courts.

The A.C.C. said Tuesday that it would “continue to make decisions based on medical advice” and that it was “prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape” evolved.

Although the Big Ten and the Pac-12 upended plans for football, their decisions affected all of their fall sports, including cross-country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball. The Pac-12 opted for a more far-reaching approach, postponing all athletic competitions, including in winter sports like basketball, until at least 2021.

Most attention in recent months, though, has been on football, and sports officials from across conferences have engaged in protracted debates over whether it would be feasible to hold a season on time, or at all.

The deliberations were frequently hobbled by the sport’s governance system. Although the N.C.A.A. has some power over football, it does not have absolute authority, and so decisions about the precise course of a season were left to individual conferences — each with its own concerns, including media deals, constituencies and levels of risk tolerance.

The hours after the Big Ten announced a decision put its internal divisions on vivid display. In a statement, Nebraska officials pronounced themselves “very disappointed” and suggested they might try to find a way for their students to compete this fall. (Some college sports officials scoffed at the prospect, in part because of assorted contracts.)

But the Pac-12 said its vote was unanimous.

Dr. Doug Aukerman, the senior associate athletic director at Oregon State and the head of the conference’s medical advisory board, said his group had two major concerns: that the virus was not under control near the conference’s universities, and that there were too many unknowns about health risks related to the virus, including heart damage.

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