Ten Midwestern politicians signed a letter addressed to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren on Tuesday asking the conference to “reconsider” its decision to postpone the fall football season.
The letter, addressed to Warren and also sent to the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors, was sent by Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and signed by Republican legislators from Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In the letter, the politicians say the Big Ten has been placed at a “disadvantage” as other conferences begin to play across the country.
“After hearing from many concerned students, parents and coaches, we have been encouraged to convey our support for their wishes and our responsibility to defend the students’ long-term academic and career interests,” the letter says.
“Recent actions taken by other conferences across the country to start football and other fall sports have placed the Big Ten, its members and students at a disadvantage. These athletes are losing a vital part of student life and are becoming less marketable to future employers with each passing week. Additionally, our local universities stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars that support vital student scholarships.”
The Big Ten, along with the Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC, decided to postpone fall sports last month, citing the unknown health risks associated with the coronavirus. Before that decision was reached via an 11-3 vote from the Big Ten presidents, the conference implemented safety measures for programs as they began preseason practice.
In their letter, Chatfield and the others say the conference’s “unprecedented planning and teamwork was an unmitigated success, and yet somehow the conference has decided to cast it aside anyway.”
The outcry about the decision — and the conference’s lack of transparency in reaching it — has not gone away. Even President Donald Trump got involved:
“Just last month, under your leadership, the Big Ten released updated and enhanced testing, quarantine and isolation policies,” the letter to Warren reads. “Our coaches and players should be given a chance to make them work.”
The letter says support for playing from “players, parents, coaches and fans” has been “overwhelming” and concludes by requesting Warren and the conference “take their concerns to heart and work with leadership at our universities to allow sports to continue safely this fall.”
On Saturday, a group of Michigan parents led a protest of the Big Ten conference’s decision to postpone the fall football season. The group headed towards the famed diag on campus.
A look at the Michigan parent-led protest earlier today, as it headed toward the diag on campus. Group wants the Big Ten to play football this fall. pic.twitter.com/cP9wOQ41tg
— Aaron McMann (@AaronMcMann) September 5, 2020
University of Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh was seen walking with advocates of returning to play. Harbaugh said the team could be ready to play in two weeks.
Jim Harbaugh says they could be ready to play in two weeks pic.twitter.com/TzKZv9K8ze
— angelique (@chengelis) September 5, 2020
Meanwhile, the Big Ten formed a “Return to Competition Task Force” with anywhere from late November to January looking like potential options. To make it happen, several of the conference’s presidents will need to be swayed. The presidents of Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State were the only three to vote against the postponement. Democratic-led states like Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland are in opposition to the return of football season and have placed increasing pressure on their college’s presidents not to be swayed.
Let the boys play!