The Big Ten Conference on Wednesday evening announced it is limiting attendance to all winter and spring sporting events because of concerns about coronavirus, throwing fans' plans to attend Nebraska athletics contests in the coming months into doubt.
The league most immediately said in a statement that nobody outside of "student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and Conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams" will be allowed in attendance for the Big Ten men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis after Wednesday's opening round — there will be fans on hand for Nebraska's opening game against Indiana, however. The tournament runs through the conference title game Sunday at Banker's Life Fieldhouse.
The more seismic news came after that in the release. It reads:
"All further Big Ten Conference winter and spring sport competitions, including championship/tournament events, will also be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and Conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and immediate family members of the participating teams.
"The main priority of the Big Ten Conference is to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis."
Reached by phone, a Nebraska spokesman said he hadn't yet seen the release and couldn't definitively say what the ramifications would be for NU athletics specifically, but it would appear based on the release that general fans will not be attending Husker events in the immediate future.
A Big Ten spokesman called it "a fluid situation," and couldn't immediately add any detail beyond the wording of the release.
As of late this afternoon, there had been no change to the status of April 18's Nebraska Red-White Spring Game, for which more than 62,000 tickets have been sold and which is slated for a 1:30 p.m. live broadcast on Big Ten Network.
Outside of home Husker events over the remaining spring athletics seasons, this could also affect the Big Ten baseball tournament, which is set to be played in Omaha on May 20-24.
Some conference schools have already started taking significant measures. The University of Michigan earlier announced that it would not be holding its version of a spring football game on April 18 and, furthermore, would not be allowing its staff to host recruits on campus or to travel and recruit off-campus.
Also on Wednesday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said the Buckeyes would suspend all official and unofficial recruiting visits to the school's campus through April 20.
More broadly, as of Wednesday evening, 12 of the 14 Big Ten institutions had taken steps to move classes online, all except for Nebraska and Illinois.