The Big Ten Conference, already in court and under pressure from players and parents over its decision to cancel fall football, is now hearing from President Donald Trump.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that he had spoken with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren about reinstating the fall season.
“Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football,” the tweet said. “Would be good (great!) for everyone – Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!”
Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football. Would be good (great!) for everyone – Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2020
The Big Ten, in a statement, said a White House representative reached out to Warren to set up a phone call with Trump. The statement said Warren and Trump had a “productive conversation.”
“The Big Ten Conference and its Return To Competition Task Force, on behalf of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C), are exhausting every resource to help student-athletes get back to playing the sports they love, at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible,” the statement said.
The Big Ten announced Aug. 11 it would move its football season to the spring semester because of health risks associated with the pandemic. The Pac-12 followed suit, joining the Mid-American Conference and the Mountain West. Other leagues are playing shortened seasons.
Warren has been under pressure for three weeks as the outcry against the decision has grown louder. Last week, a group of Nebraska players filed a lawsuit seeking a reversal of the decision, and Gov. Pete Ricketts has been a vocal proponent of the Cornhuskers playing fall football.
“Before the Big Ten’s decision, we were already working with the university and public health officials on plans to play football this fall,” Ricketts, a Republican, said. “We would love for the Big Ten to give schools the flexibility to make decisions that are right for them.”
Last week, The Associated Press and other outlets reported that Big Ten officials are working on multiple plans to salvage a football season — including one that would have the league kick off during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Soon after, Trump brought up the state of college football.
“No, I want Big Ten, and all other football, back – NOW,” Trump tweeted. “The Dems don’t want football back, for political reasons, but are trying to blame me and the Republicans. Another LIE, but this is what we are up against! “
No, I want Big Ten, and all other football, back – NOW. The Dems don’t want football back, for political reasons, but are trying to blame me and the Republicans. Another LIE, but this is what we are up against! They should also open up all of their Shutdown States.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2020
“These are big, strong guys. They’ll be just fine,” Trump said Friday. “Big Ten. Get with it. Open up your season, Big Ten.”
Trump, before boarding Air Force One on Tuesday, said “the biggest headwind we have is that you have Democrats who don’t want to see it happen.”
Trump said he spoke with Warren and “had a very good conversation, very productive, and maybe we’ll be very nicely surprised.”
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