Big Ten teams to continue with helmets as only protective equipment allowed at practices

Big Ten football programs will remain in the "acclimatization period" of practices, allowed to use helmets as their only piece of protective equipment until further notice, the league announced Saturday.

The Big Ten said football programs will remain in the initial phase based on advice from its COVID-19 advisory groups.

Programs around the league opened preseason camps Thursday and Friday. NCAA rules state that teams must conduct their first two days of practices without pads before moving forward, but Big Ten programs will stay in the initial phase.

"Each new phase of activity provides new intelligence and experience and allows us to evaluate the implementation of our conference and institutional medical protocols in real time," the league said in a statement Saturday. "In order to make the right health and safety decisions for our student-athletes, we believe it is best to continue in the appropriate phase of activity referenced above while we digest and share information from each campus to ensure we are moving forward cautiously."

Other Big Ten fall sports teams that started practices will continue to consult doctors and athletic trainers and follow current medical protocols.

Big Ten presidents are meeting Saturday, sources told ESPN, confirming a report from Yahoo. A Big Ten spokesman confirmed to ESPN there is no vote planned during Saturday's regularly scheduled meeting regarding calling off the fall sports season, which the Mid-American Conference did earlier Saturday.

The league on Wednesday outlined its 2020 football schedule, which has games beginning Sept. 3 and throughout the first weekend of September. The Big Ten is set to play a 10-game, league-only schedule with ample flexibility for postponements.

"We understand there are many questions regarding how this impacts schedules, as well as the feasibility of proceeding forward with the season at all," the Big Ten's statement reads. "As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes."