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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.

3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Patrick Gaspard to leave George Soros' Open Society Foundations

Patrick Gaspard speaks onstage at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: Ernesto Distefano/Getty Images

Patrick Gaspard, who served as ambassador to South Africa under President Barack Obama, is stepping down as president of George Soros' Open Society Foundations, fueling speculation that he'll join the Biden administration, potentially as Labor secretary.

What to know: Before his stint as ambassador, Gaspard was Obama's political director in the White House, drawing upon his experience in the labor movement to advance Obama's legislative agenda on health care and financial services reform.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

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