Nebraska attempted to quickly schedule a non-conference game for Saturday in place of its canceled matchup with Wisconsin, but the Big Ten said no.
According to multiple reports, Nebraska had an agreement with Chattanooga to play Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln after the Wisconsin game was declared a no contest due to COVID-19 cases on the Wisconsin team. With an unexpected vacancy on the schedule, Nebraska found Chattanooga willing to make the trip — but the Big Ten nixed the arrangement.
ESPN is reporting that Chattanooga tested all of its players and staff members on Wednesday, all of which came back negative, and held another round of testing Thursday morning. The plan was for additional rounds of testing once the Chattanooga party arrived in Lincoln, but that plan could not come to fruition due to the Big Ten’s decision.
Chattanooga athletic director Mark Wharton told CBS that Nebraska had “guaranteed” payment in the range of $200,000 to $250,000 for the game. Chattanooga, an FCS program, played its first game over the weekend, losing 13-10 to Western Kentucky. Chattanooga is a member of the Southern Conference, which moved its season to the spring, beginning Feb. 20.
When the Big Ten decided to play a 2020 season — after initially postponing it — it arranged a conference-only format without any bye weeks. Interruptions due to COVID-19 have been common in other conferences, and the Wisconsin-Nebraska cancelation was the first to hit the Big Ten. Wisconsin said Wednesday that 12 people within its program, six players and six coaches, have tested positive. That group includes head coach Paul Chryst.
When the Big Ten initially voted to postpone fall sports, Nebraska was one of the three schools (along with Iowa and Ohio State) that opposed the decision. The university was very outspoken in its quest to have the season played. There was even a group of Huskers players that filed a lawsuit against the conference. A court filing related to that lawsuit was what revealed the Big Ten’s 11-3 vote. Before that point, an exact tally had not been divulged publicly.
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