Pitt announces 2012 recruiting class

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(Here’s Pittsburgh’s press release on the Panthers’ 2012 recruiting class.)

Adam Bisnowaty, OL, 6-6, 275, Cheswick, Pa., Fox Chapel
A national-caliber offensive line prospect who was one of Pennsylvania’s most heavily recruited players…three-year starter at Fox Chapel who played offensive guard and tackle during his career…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Pennsylvania and the nation’s No. 19 offensive tackle by Rivals…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”… Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…also was an “All-Big East” performer at defensive tackle…led team to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs as a senior…played under Coach Eric Ravotti.

Bam Bradley, S, 6-2, 200, Trotwood, Ohio, Trotwood-Madison
Big-play defensive back for undefeated Ohio Division II state champion Trotwood-Madison…two-time Associated Press All-Ohio Division II honoree…Ohio Southwest District Division II Defensive Player of the Year…compiled 60 tackles, five interceptions (returning two for touchdowns) and two fumble recoveries as a senior…was a varsity starter since his freshman season…Bradley led Trotwood-Madison to a 15-0 record and the state title as a senior…his final two seasons, Trotwood-Madison went a combined 27-3 (.900) with two state championship game berths…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…rated one of Ohio’s top 45 players by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Maurice Douglass…Bam is the younger brother of Pitt redshirt freshman linebacker Nicholas Grigsby.

Mike Caprara, LB, 6-0, 205, Turtle Creek, Pa., Woodland Hills
Finished his career as Woodland Hills’ all-time tackling leader with more than 350 stops…earned a starting role midway through his freshman season and started every single game his final three years…playing middle linebacker, spearheaded a defense that held opponents to 14.2 points per game his senior year…also was a starting fullback/H-back on offense and scored two touchdowns…had a career-high 122 tackles as a junior and was named first team All-State Class AAAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers, Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…led team to a four-year record of 31-16 (.660) with four WPIAL playoff berths…helped Woodland Hills to the 2009 WPIAL championship and PIAA playoffs as a sophomore…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…played under Coach George Novak.

Trenton Coles, DB, 6-3, 175, Clairton, Pa., Clairton
A standout on both sides of the ball for perennial Class A power Clairton as a receiver and defensive back…selected first team All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…over his final three varsity seasons, led Clairton to a 47-1 record, three WPIAL Class A championships and three PIAA state titles…Coles was part of a WPIAL-record 47-game winning streak to close his varsity football career…in addition to receiver and defensive back, he also contributed as a PAT specialist…averaged 19.4 yards per catch as a senior (21 receptions for 408 yards)…also had 16 rushes for 96 yards (6.0 avg.)…compiled 80 total points (nine touchdowns and 26 PATs)…Coles also shined in track and basketball at Clairton…swept the 100- and 200-meter sprints at the 2011 WPIAL and PIAA championship meets…is a third-generation state gold medalist in track (mother Marla Puryear and grandfather Norman Jones also won state 100-meter titles)…selected the 2010-11 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Male Athlete of the Year…sustained a knee injury in the state football championship game and will miss the 2011-12 basketball and track seasons while rehabilitating…rated the No. 34 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Chris Davis, WR, 5-9, 185, Austintown, Ohio, Austintown Fitch
Two-way standout at receiver and defensive back for Austintown Fitch…Northeastern Ohio Inland All-District…All-Federal League…caught nearly 50 passes over his final two seasons…as a junior, compiled 748 all-purpose yards to lead Fitch to a 10-2 record, the Federal League championship and Ohio Division I playoffs…rated one of the top 40 players in Ohio by Rivals…played under Coach Phil Annarella…joins his twin brother, Demitrious Davis, as one of two Fitch products to sign with Pitt this year.

Demitrious Davis, WR, 5-10, 185, Austintown, Ohio, Austintown Fitch
One of Northeast Ohio’s top prospects despite playing in only three games as a senior due to a knee injury…was an athletic quarterback for Austintown Fitch who enjoyed a decorated junior season…Davis’ 2010 honors included Associated Press first team All-Ohio Division I (largest classification), Northeastern Ohio Inland District Offensive Player of the Year and Federal League Player of the Year…was a 1,000-yard rusher and passer his junior season…ran for 1,202 yards and 20 touchdowns…also threw for 1,024 yards, hitting 62% of his passes (65 of 105)…threw 10 TDs against only two interceptions…led Fitch to a 10-2 record, the Federal League championship and Ohio Division I playoffs…rated one of the top 40 players in Ohio by Rivals…played under Coach Phil Annarella…joins his twin brother, Chris Davis, as one of two Fitch products to sign with Pitt this year.

J.P. Holtz, TE, 6-4, 230, Pittsburgh, Pa., Shaler Area
One of the WPIAL’s most versatile, and highly recruited, players…contributed at no fewer than five different positions during his Shaler Area varsity career, including running back, receiver, tight end, linebacker and punter…played quarterback as a freshman…considered one of the country’s top tight end prospects…rated the nation’s No. 10 tight end by Scout…as a senior, rushed for 337 yards on 72 carries, caught 19 passes for 332 yards and scored 15 touchdowns…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAAPittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…All-Northern Seven…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…rated Pennsylvania’s No. 10 overall prospect by Scout and No. 24 by Rivals…led Shaler to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs as a senior…played under Coach Neil Gordon

Terrell Jackson, DL, 6-3, 285, Columbus, Ohio, Marion-Franklin
Established himself as one of the top defensive linemen in the state of Ohio after compiling 75 tackles and 20 sacks as a senior at Marion-Franklin…Associated Press All-Ohio Division II (first team)…Ohio Central District Division II Defensive Player of the Year…The Columbus Dispatch first team All-Metro…selected to play in the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association (OHSFCA) North-South Classic…led team to a 13-1 record, the Columbus City League South championship and the semifinals of the Ohio Division II state playoffs…rated one of the top 45 prospects in Ohio by Rivals…played under Coach Brian Haffele.

Ryan Lewis, DB, 6-0, 185, Sammamish, Wash., Eastlake
Led all classifications in the state of Washington with more than 1,700 yards rushing as a senior at Eastlake…first team Associated Press Washington Class 4A All-State…All-KingCo 4A Crest Division…averaged nearly 9.5 yards per carry en route to 1,706 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns…led Eastlake to a 10-2 record and the quarterfinals of the WIAA Class 4A playoffs…rated the No. 13 prospect in the state of Washington by Scout…played under Coach Gene Dales…Lewis owns significant family ties to Pitt…is the nephew of former Pitt cornerback Tim Lewis (1979-82), a first-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers who is now the secondary coach for the Atlanta Falcons…cousin is Tristan Roberts, who played linebacker for the Panthers from 2007-11…Ryan’s father, Will Lewis, is the vice president of pro personnel for the Seattle Seahawks.

Jahmahl Pardner, DB, 5-11, 170, Rochester, N.Y., Aquinas Institute
Considered one of the top prospects in the state of New York, excelling as a receiver, defensive back and punt returner…New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) first team Class A All-State…All-Greater Rochester…averaged 17.3 yards per catch as a senior with 43 receptions for 745 yards and 11 touchdowns…on defense, compiled 31 tackles, 12 PBUs, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal…averaged 15 yards per punt return (14 returns for 210 yards)…totaled 76 points (12 TDs and two 2-point conversions)…in three seasons as a varsity starter, led team to a 33-3 record (.917), three sectional titles and three state Class A playoff berths…his junior year, Aquinas went 13-0 and won the state title…rated New York’s No. 6 prospect by Scout and No. 9 by Rivals…played under Coach Chris Battaglia.

Devon Porchia, LB, 6-2, 200, Parkville, Md., Gilman School
Three-year starter at linebacker at Gilman School who collected 71 tackles and five sacks as a senior…Maryland Big School All-State Team (second team)…MdHigh.com Private School All-State (second team)…Baltimore Sun All-Metro…All-Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)…Baltimore Touchdown Club “Super 22”…led team to a 10-1 record and the A-Conference championship as a senior…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game that pits players from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia against players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware…also was picked to play in the Maryland Crab Bowl (Baltimore and Washington D.C.) all-star game…rated the No. 20 prospect in Maryland by Rivals and No. 30 by Scout…played under Coach Biff Poggi, a 1979 Pitt football letterman.

Darryl Render, DL, 6-2, 255, Brook Park, Ohio, St. Edward
One of the top defensive end prospects in the Midwest…starred for St. Edward, which annually ranks among Ohio’s top programs on the Division I level (largest classification)…rated the No. 27 prospect in Ohio by Rivals and No. 36 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 31 strongside defensive end by Rivals…Northeast Lakes All-District honoree…helped team to an 8-4 record and the state playoffs…Render’s junior year St. Edward won the state championship with a 15-0 record and finished No. 3 in the Rivals national high school team rankings…played under Coach Rick Finotti.

Deaysean Rippy, S, 6-2, 200, McKees Rocks, Pa., Sto-Rox
Considered one of Pennsylvania’s top prospects following an accomplished career at Sto-Rox…selected first team All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…All-Big Seven…Big Seven Defensive Player of the Year…in addition to being a defensive standout, also was a big-play wide receiver for Sto-Rox and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch over his junior and senior seasons…had 46 receptions for 906 yards (19.7 avg.) with 12 touchdowns his final two years…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…rated the No. 8 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout and No. 9 by Rivals…rated the nation’s No. 18 outside linebacker prospect by Scout and No. 21 by Rivals…played under Coach Ron Butschle. 

Gabe Roberts, OL, 6-5, 295, New London, Wisc., New London
Rated one of the top five overall prospects in Wisconsin by Scout…two-year, two-way starter for New London at offensive guard and defensive end…named All-Bay Conference on both sides of the ball as a senior…Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-Region selection on defense…was named New London’s Most Valuable Player on offense…played under Coach Pete Mroczynski.

Rushel Shell, RB, 6-0, 210, Aliquippa, Pa., Hopewell
One of the country’s most sought-after running backs…rated the nation’s No. 3 running back and No. 26 overall prospect on the ESPNU 150 list…rated the country’s No. 4 running back by Scout and No. 6 by Rivals…rated the nation’s No. 10 overall prospect by Tom Lemming…USA TODAY first team All-USA…Sports Illustrated and ESPNHS All-American…finished his career as the most prolific rusher in Pennsylvania history…in four seasons at Hopewell, Shell rushed for a state-record 9,078 yards on 1,107 carries (8.2 avg.)…scored 110 career touchdowns, the most in WPIAL history…set a national record with 39 consecutive 100-yard games, eclipsing former Oklahoma Sooners great Billy Sims’ mark of 38 set in 1975…Shell rushed for 200 yards or more in 25 games…in 44 career contests, he averaged 206 yards per game…rushed for more than 2,000 yards in each of his final three seasons…as a senior, rushed for 2,312 yards on 311 attempts (7.4 avg.) and scored 28 touchdowns…his junior year he totaled 2,510 yards and 32 TDs…rushed for 2,740 yards as a sophomore and 1,516 as a freshman…the very first time he touched the ball as a high school freshman, Shell ran 55 yards for a touchdown…four-time Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Class AAA selection, including first-team honors his final three years…Pennsylvania Sports Writers andPennsylvania Football News Class AAA Player of the Year…two-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Player of the Year…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Player of the Year…two-time winner of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association’s “Mercury Award,” annually presented to the High School Player of the Year…Shell was presented the Mercury Award by legendary Pitt coach John Majors…led Hopewell to four WPIAL Class AAA playoff berths, including a title game appearance his sophomore year…the Vikings went a combined 33-13 (.717) during his career…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…also chosen to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…went to the same high school that produced famed Pitt running back Tony Dorsett…Hopewell’s home field is named “Tony Dorsett Stadium”…played under Coach Dave Vestal. 

Chad Voytik, QB, 6-1, 185, Cleveland, Tenn., Cleveland
Threw for more than 5,000 yards during a heralded career at Tennessee’s Cleveland High…named to the “Elite 11,” which honors the nation’s top high school quarterbacks…U.S. Army All-American…rated the nation’s No. 4 “pro-style” quarterback by Rivals…rated the No. 1 overall prospect in Tennessee by Rivals and No. 3 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 12 quarterback by Scout…Cleveland’s all-time leading passer with 5,005 career yards…also compiled 6,098 yards in career total offense…threw for 1,430 yards and rushed for 438 as a senior while accounting for 17 touchdowns (10 passing and seven rushing)…led Cleveland to the District 5-AAA championship as a junior after compiling 2,125 yards in total offense (1,768 passing and 357 rushing) and a combined 22 touchdowns (16 passing and six rushing)…starting quarterback for the East in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl and finished 7-of-13 passing for 60 yards while also rushing for a nine-yard TD…was one of two featured players in the television documentary series “The Ride: The Road to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl,” which chronicled Voytik’s senior season up to the all-star game…selected to play for the 2012 U.S. Under-19 National Team that competes in the “International Bowl” against a World Team of top players from outside the United States…three-year starter under Cleveland coach E.K. Slaughter.

Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns

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The Big Ten won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first of college sports’ power conferences to yield to the pandemic.

The move announced Tuesday comes six day after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

But it was not a surprise. Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks emerge

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President Donald Trump joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches Monday in the push to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown.

There was speculation that two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their seasons. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports and became the first school in the Bowl Subdivison to break from its league in doing so; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes had been taken by its presidents and chancellors on fall sports as of Monday afternoon and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,’” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. ”Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among the group posting their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #WeWantToPla. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Old Dominion has stopped trying. The Virginia school canceled football and other fall sports less than a week after Conference USA set out a plan to play a football season.

“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” ODU President Broderick said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a different stand, saying the Wolverines have shown players can be safe after they return to school.

“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” he wrote. “I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.

“Life is about tradeoffs. There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that’s absolutely true; it’s always true,” he wrote. “But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18- to 22-year-olds will be if there isn’t a season.”

“Here’s the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football, but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football,” added Sasse, a former college president. “This is a moment for leadership. These young men need a season. Please don’t cancel college football.”

Players unite in push to save college season, create union

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Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds saw the tweets from Trevor Lawrence and other college football players pushing for the opportunity to play this season despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers behind a players’ rights movement in the Big Ten, didn’t like the way some on social media seemed to be pitting Lawrence’s message against the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds got on a call with Lawrence and the star quarterback’s Clemson teammate, Darien Rencher, and within a matter of hours the summer of athlete empowerment found another gear.

College football players from across the country united Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport’s biggest decisions.

Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from Florida State to Oregon posted a graphic on social media with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently but at the end of the day the message wasn’t too far off from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. “Which is we all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do so safely.”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a movement they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened mass opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited arrived on the scene a couple days later, a movement that claimed the backing off 1,000 Big Ten football players. Their demands were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety in dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night, the call with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence led to a Zoom meeting — of course — with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs got to work on a graphic and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started bouncing ideas off each others’ heads and kind of discussing where we go from here and we ended up coming up with that statement,” said Reynolds, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

All of this capped a weekend during which the adults who run college sports seemed to be moving toward shutting it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college football leagues to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. They discussed mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic still not under control in the United States.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago? No, we’re not,” he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push back the tide with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too.

Reynolds wants athletes to have a say in the meetings that are deciding the fate of their sports — starting now.

”All college athletes through unifying and not being afraid to speak our minds and having social media to kind of mobilize, I think that box on a Zoom call is something that is pretty attainable,” he said. “Especially, in the near future.”

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

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In many ways, the Mid-American Conference has little in common with Power Five leagues that first come to mind when fans think of major college football.

There are no 75,000-seat stadiums in the MAC. Million-dollar per year coaches are rare. In a typical season, NFL scouts might find one or two potential first-round draft picks playing at the 12 MAC schools that dot the Midwest. The MAC’s biggest games — #MACtion, if you will — are often played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Its television deal with ESPN pays per year only a few million more than the $9 million Clemson pays coach Dabo Swinney.

Still, the MAC is one of 10 conferences that competes in the NCAA’s highest level of football, and Saturday it became the first of those to surrender to the coronavirus pandemic and cancel the fall sports season.

So is the MAC an anomaly, done in by its small budgets or is this a dire sign of things to come in college football?

“I won’t try to judge what other folks are doing,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “I know we’re all in the same place. They all have their advisers. They’re going to make judgments based on the information they are receiving.”

Not long after the MAC announced it would explore second-semester seasons for all fall sports, including soccer and volleyball, the Big Ten made its own announcement that seemed ominous given the timing.

Tapping the brakes on football’s preseason, the Big Ten told its schools that until further notice full contact practices cannot begin. All teams will remain in the first two days of what is known as the “acclimatization period,” working out in just helmets. The first Big Ten games of the season are scheduled for Sept. 5.

“As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The MAC’s schools were facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly COVID-19 protocols, while also dealing with the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely.

A move to the spring, however, could also be budget-buster if it means less revenue from the ESPN deal, which pays each school about $1 million per year, and football ticket sales. The MAC also shares about $90 million per year in College Football Playoff money with four other conferences.

“It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications of any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. “As we sit here today we don’t know what this will mean financially and how the rest of the fall plays out.”

Steinbrecher said the decision effects only fall sports, not basketball or others that begin in the second semester such as baseball, softball and lacrosse.

He added the decision was unanimous among the membership. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier, supported by NIU President Lisa Freeman, has been a vocal advocate of delaying the season.

“No one wants to have football or sports more than me,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama in the late 1980s. “Football gave me all the opportunities I have today, but I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives.”

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said he has been feeling a sense of inevitability for two weeks about the MAC canceling fall football, but can’t predict whether this decision trickles up to other conferences.

“Could it? Certainly. There’s certainly a narrative out there that could happen,” Wetherbee said. “No, it wouldn’t shock me if some followed suit. In fact, it would shock me if some didn’t.”

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline made clear that even though plans for the football season have been adjusted to accommodate potential COVID-19 disruptions like the ones Major League Baseball has had, they are all still aspirational.

“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward,” Hainline said Friday during the NCAA’s weekly video chat on social media.

As the Power Five conferences re-worked their schedules to play exclusively or mostly within their conferences, another of the MAC’s revenue streams dried up.

MAC schools, with athletic budgets in the $30 million range, rely heavily on payouts from road games against power conference teams. Kent State alone had more than $5 million in so-called guarantee games canceled. Whether they can be recouped and when is still to be determined. Without that revenue, the strain became too great of trying to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic.

“Certainly there was a cost attached to it,” Wetherbee said. “But as a league we were prepared to do it.”

The move to try spring football has already been going on in the second tier of Division I.

Nine of 13 conferences that play in the Championship Subdivision, have postponed fall football seasons. The first was the Ivy League in early July.

Now it’s the MAC, which was among the first conferences to limit fan access to its basketball tournament in March as concerns for the virus began to soar across the country. On March 12, the MAC was among many conferences to call off their tournaments hours before the NCAA canceled all of March Madness.

“If you told me in March we’d be here today,” Steinbrecher said, “I’d never have believed it”