MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fans will have to wait to cheer on the Golden Gophers.

A week after the Big Ten Conference released its football schedule, it announced Tuesday it has postponed all fall sports.

That impacts football, cross country, volleyball and soccer at the University of Minnesota.

U of M President Joan Gabel said there’s too much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and fall sports.

“Safety first, absolutely safety first, so are making our decisions based on the information if we are prepared to put our athletes on the field,” Gabel said.

It led to the ultimate conclusion from the Big Ten Conference to postpone the season — a conclusion Athletic Director Mark Coyle supports.

“We’re not going to operate in a bubble. These are kids who are going to class, these are kids who interact with others, etc., and so we just simply said it in the contact tracing, the testing the uncertainty around that,” Coyle said.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said the safety and wellness, the physical and mental health of student athletes is his highest priority.

“These are amateur athletes and they deserve an opportunity to be able to participate in a healthy and safe manner,” Warren said.

It comes at a time when the Gophers were shining. The football team coming off 11 wins last season, the first time since 1904 and victory at the Outback bowl. Women’s volleyball making it to the Final Four.

“We know this is a real blow to a lot of their physical training, mental wellbeing,” Gabel said.

Coyle shared this message with teams and coaches: “We support them and we’re going to get through this together and on the other side of this deal as long as we do it the right way and the safe and healthy way.”

The NCAA will announce its eligibility decision Friday. Coyle said he’s advocating for another year of competition for student athletes, but there’s no guarantee.

Jennifer Mayerle

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