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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Big Ten announced Thursday that it will move all fall sports to a conference-only schedule.

Why it matters: This will have a snowball effect on the rest of the country, and could force all Power 5 conferences to follow suit, resulting in a regionalized fall sports season.

Driving the news: The Pac-12 is expected to make a similar decision in the coming days, sources told The Athletic.

  • The ACC will likely follow suit, at least for football, sources told Stadium. And it will assist independent Notre Dame with filling out its schedule if needed.

The big picture: While this news is jarring, non-conference scheduling would improve the chances of fall sports actually being played, as it cuts down on travel and limits outside variables (i.e. conferences having different testing protocols).

  • Going this route also buys time and gives conferences more flexibility to cancel/postpone games and make other real-time decisions during the season.

By the numbers: In the case of Big Ten football, canceling non-conference games affects 36 scheduled opponents.

  • Five marquee matchups — Ohio State at Oregon, Michigan at Washington, Notre Dame at Wisconsin, Penn State at Virginia Tech and Miami at Michigan State — will be eliminated.
  • Six FBS schools — Ball State, Bowling Green, BYU, Central Michigan, UConn and Northern Illinois — were scheduled to play two Big Ten opponents.
  • Eight FCS schools will lose their games against Big Ten schools, which also means they'll lose the six- and seven-figure money guarantees that help fund their athletic departments.

The last word: "We're in a perpetual state of fluidity right now in dealing with all of these issues," Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told the New York Times.

  • "We're taking it one step at a time, and we're also prepared not to play the season if circumstances dictate."

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Oct 14, 2020 - Sports

Sports stadiums welcome voters, not fans

Map: Axios Visuals

The NBA just completed a historic season that required the league to shutter its arenas. Now, it will help execute a historic election by re-opening them to voters.

Why it matters: The momentum created by the NBA has extended to other leagues, culminating in the largest political effort the sports world has ever seen.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

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