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Alvarez: Postponing Big Ten fall sports seasons produces "hollow feeling"

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UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez speaks with reporters during an Aug. 11, 2020 digital news conference, reacting to the Big Ten's decision to postpone its fall sports seasons until at least Spring 2021.

Barry Alvarez Zoom press call. Aug. 11, 2020.

MADISON, Wis. — The decision Tuesday to postpone the Big Ten’s fall sports seasons caused Barry Alvarez mental and physical pain.

“My body just aches as I’m dealing with this from first thing in the morning,” the University of Wisconsin Director of Athletics said. “It hasn’t been fun.”

Rumors that a cancellation or postponement would come swirled early in the week, just days after the conference posted amended football schedules. The league made the final call early Tuesday afternoon, followed several hours later by the PAC-12.

Alvarez stressed during a digital conference call that the Big Ten made a decision based on advice it received from doctors and health care professionals. The other “Power Five” conferences had not made a decision one way or another by late in the afternoon.

“We have no ties with those other leagues. We make decisions unilaterally,” Alvarez said. “I know those commissioners so I think they know what each other is doing. We made a decision through our medical experts and everybody’s making decisions on their own.”

Alvarez would not count out the possibility of football shifting to a spring season, but said he was deferring to the advice of his head coach Paul Chryst. Alvarez said a full season was out of the question, but six to eight games could be reasonable.

Still, many UW and other college football players tweeted their frustration and anger over the season’s postponement.

Badgers’ defensive back Faion Hicks wrote, “Ain’t no way we play in the spring then turn around and play in the fall. Our bodies won’t last, stop getting people hopes up.”

Alvarez said he can understand players’ pain.

“I don’t feel good about the whole thing,” Alvarez said. “I just feel a hollow feeling. This has been very, very difficult for me. Probably the toughest fall I’ve ever gone through.”

There will likely be difficult furloughs and layoffs due to no games at Camp Randall this fall. Alvarez said he hoped to not cut student services, but was not certain which positions would be out of luck.

“We’re gonna have some layoffs. It’s just a fact of life,” Alvarez said.

The AD was clear, however: the cost of fighting and preventing the virus did not weigh into UW or the Big Ten’s decision. He added the university was hoping to develop a rapid test that gave results within an hour, but the school ran out of time.

“Cost never came up,” Alvarez said. “We were going to handle that. That was never an issue.”

Alvarez says discussions about eligibility rules for student-athletes will start Wednesday.

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