The Big 12 announced formal plans Wednesday to host its 2020 college football season in the fall despite cancellations by other Power Five conferences amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference also released a full "9+1" schedule with a start date of Sept. 26.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in the announcement:
"The virus continues to evolve and medical professionals are learning more with each passing week. Opinions vary regarding the best path forward, as we've seen throughout higher education and our society overall, but we are comfortable in our institutions' ability to provide a structured training environment, rigorous testing and surveillance, hospital quality sanitation and mitigation practices that optimize the health and safety of our student-athletes. We believe all of this combines to create an ideal learning and training situation during this time of COVID-19. Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome."
The Big Ten and Pac-12 were the first Power Five conferences to postpone the fall season Tuesday with hopes of rescheduling it for the spring.
Meanwhile, the SEC and ACC have yet to present formal plans for a possible fall football season.
Although the Big 12 has decided to move forward with the football season, Bowlsby previously stated the conference would need to remain "flexible" throughout the year should things change.
Playing in the fall leaves open the potential for postponed or canceled games should COVID-19 cases arise, and it's not a lock the conference will be able to finish the campaign.
Moving to spring doesn't guarantee the situation will have changed, though it does leave time for the creation of a successful vaccine. But in that scenario, the season could conflict with NFL draft preparations.
Meanwhile, the complete cancellation of football season could have major financial implications on athletic departments around the country.
All things considered, the 10-team Big 12 has decided to keep the season in the fall, and it'll hope to avoid any widespread breakout in order to finish the campaign.
Oklahoma and Texas will enter the season as the championship favorites with Oklahoma State as the top contender to overtake those storied schools.
It's always possible an unprecedented year could produce an unexpected champion, though.