LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – The Big Ten has denied Nebraska’s request to play a replacement football game on Saturday.
The Huskers were scheduled to play Wisconsin on Saturday, which was canceled due to a rise in COVID-19 cases within the Badgers program. Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst was among twelve members to test positive for COVID-19 this week. The canceled game is ruled “no contest” by the Big Ten; not a forfeit.
The current Big Ten schedule lists each team playing eight games over eight weeks with no availability for a make-up date. All games are against conference opponents. Nebraska exploring a non-conference foe, like Tennessee-Chattanooga, required special permission from the Big Ten.
“We were in talks,” UTC athletic director Mark Wharton told CBS Sports reporter Dennis Dodd. “We went through many levels of approval with the Big Ten. We lost on the final approval.” Wharton also says UTC had zero positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday night while using PCR tests.
Nebraska had agreed to pay Tennessee-Chattanooga up to $250,000 to come to Lincoln, per Dodds’ report.
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos and UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green confirmed the reports about their failed efforts to play a non-conference opponent Saturday and issued the following statement late Thursday morning.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety and well-being of our Nebraska student-athletes has been our top priority, and we know Wisconsin is operating with the same guiding principle. We wish all of those impacted in the Wisconsin program a quick and full recovery from the virus.
“With the cancellation of the game against Wisconsin, we did explore the possibility of securing a non-conference game for Saturday. The discussions we had were with teams that had already implemented stricter testing protocols than those mandated by the Big Ten Conference. Those details were non-negotiable if we were to bring a non-conference opponent to Lincoln.
“At Nebraska, we will always make decisions based on what is best for our student-athletes, and to provide them with the best possible experience during their college careers. To this point, the young men in our program have worked hard to prepare for the football season and have made the necessary sacrifices in order to play in this unusual environment. With an already shortened season, we owed it to our student-athletes to explore any possible option to play a game this week.
“We believe the flexibility to play non-conference games could have been beneficial not only for Nebraska, but other Big Ten teams who may be in a similar position as the season progresses. The ability for all Big Ten members to play a non-conference game if needed could provide another data point for possible College Football Playoff and bowl consideration.
“Ultimately, the Big Ten Conference did not approve our request, and we respect their decision. We are excited to move forward with preparations for the rest of the season, beginning with next week’s game at Northwestern.”
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