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U-M, MSU respond to 'heartbreaking' postponement of fall sports

The Big Ten conference hopes to be able to play its college football season in the spring instead.

It's official: There will be no Big Ten conference sports this fall.

The Big Ten made the announcement Tuesday afternoon that the fall sports season is postponed "due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic."

The conference became the first of the Power 5 conference to postpone its football season due to coronavirus. 

School leaders, athletic directors and coaches from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University issued statements Tuesday afternoon, saying the schools are committed to safety during this time. 

"We will continue to work with the Big Ten Conference as we look for opportunities for athletics to resume in the future. Collectively, we need to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and others and follow the guidance of our health and medical experts to protect the mental and physical health of our student-athlete," said MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. 

The Big Ten conference hopes to be able to play its college football season in the spring instead. The University of Michigan said decisions about winter and spring sports will continue to be evaluated. 

The postponement affects cross country, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball.

RELATED: Big Ten postpones fall football season; Pac-12 will follow suit, reports say

Warde Manuel, U-M Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics, called the decision "unfortunate" but "necessary." 

"This latest decision was reached after careful consideration and the grim knowledge that this pandemic continues to affect our country adversely. I am deeply saddened for our student-athletes and remain committed to our ongoing promise to provide them with a world-class education. We remain grateful to our global Michigan family for their unwavering support," a statement read. 

MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman called the postponement "heartbreaking" for student athletes. 

"Over the next few months, we will continue to support the academic and social development of our student-athletes, and to whatever extent is possible, also their athletic training, while continuing to place a priority on their physical and mental health. This is a sad day in the history of Michigan State and Big Ten athletics, but we are resolute that we will continue to move forward and prepare for when we can safely return to competition," Beekman's statement read in part. 

MSU Football Coach Mel Tucker said the "uncertainties" caused by COVID-19 created stress for players and their families, and he respects the decision of the Big Ten conference to postpone the season.

“When the medical experts tell us that we can get back to business, we’ll be ready. Until then, stay safe and Go Green," he said. 

RELATED: Trump says canceling college football season would be 'tragic mistake'

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