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Big 12 reportedly ‘leaning towards trying to play’

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A source told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before Tuesday’s first meeting that there’s positive momentum for playing football this fall in the Big 12.

West Virginia v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

The Texas Longhorns administration wants to play football this fall, according to a high-ranking administrator, but the conference itself remains divided ahead of a call on Tuesday evening around 5 p.m. Central that will include commissioner Bob Bowlsby, conference athletic directors and presidents, and doctors.

Oklahoma has discussed a move to spring football, potentially putting the two most powerful programs in the conference at odds on whether cancel the fall football season.

According to Sports Illustrated, the Big 12 is the “linchpin” that could impact decisions by the ACC and SEC, the other Power Five conferences that have not yet canceled the fall football season. A vote is expected on whether to cancel the fall football season.

“All of us know that the Big Ten and Pac-12 are going to do something,” a Big 12 administrator told SI. “Are we going to be followers? Is it time to pull the plug? If we’re on the fence, let’s not make a decision. If we’re still questioning it, why do we have to make a decision? If the ACC and SEC are saying yes, we can gather more information.”

The medical advice of doctors may have an impact as concerns grow about myocarditis, a condition linked to COVID-19 and caused by inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause cardiac arrest. ESPN reported on Tuesday that at least five Big Ten athletes and a handful of other athletes around the country have received a diagnosis of myocarditis.

Since medical understanding of COVID-19 and its effects on the body are still in the relatively early stages, doctors don’t know much about the long-term effects of myocarditis induced by COVID-19 and whether it puts the lives of athletes in danger.

So the condition has become a focus of conversations among doctors and league officials in multiple conference, including the Big Ten and the Pac-12, which became the first two Power Five conferences to cancel fall football season on Tuesday. The MAC cited those concerns when the conference canceled fall sports over the weekend.

“The science came to us so fast,” Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said, explaining why the conference acted quickly in canceling fall football season.

The Pac-12 expressed similar concerns.

“We are concerned about health outcomes related to the virus,” the conference said in a document released on Tuesday. “Among these, there is new and evolving information regarding potential serious cardiac side effects in elite athletes. We do not have enough information to understand the short and long-term outcomes regarding these health issues.”

At least one big-time prospect from the 2020 class has also struggled to bounce back from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas, the No. 3 recruit nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, struggled to recover from COVID-19 and a subsequent strep throat infection, so he’s now expected to redshirt this season.

[6:10 p.m. Central update]: Just before the Big 12 meeting started, a source told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the conference was “leaning toward trying to play football this fall.”

During the meeting, a Kansas State Rivals writer tweeted out the following:

Anything substantial to develop from the meeting may not emerge until late in the evening — after the multi-hour call, the athletic directors will hold a call at 8 p.m. Central, according to Davison. A formalized schedule could emerge as a result, which could finally lock in the date and opponent for the Texas non-conference game.

[7:23 p.m. Central update]: