President Donald Trump suggested today that the Big Ten is close to returning to a fall football season, but conference officials strongly disagreed.
This morning, Trump tweeted that he had held a conversation with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, and that the conference was “on the one yard line” with a decision to immediately start up football. ESPN reports that Trump told reporters the call was “very productive.”
“We’re pushing very hard. … I think they want to play, and the fans want to see it, and the players have a lot at stake, including possibly playing in the NFL,” Trump said. “We had a very good conversation, very productive, and maybe we’ll be very nicely surprised.”
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
But Big Ten officials offered media outlets a much different view.
“Nothing has changed,” one source told ESPN. “Nothing. We have to get all the medical questions answered before we can even bring back a plan to the presidents for approval.”
Yahoo Sports writer Pete Thamel wrote in a column today that his sources were even less optimistic.
“To say multiple sources denied the notion of the Big Ten playing immediately would not be strong enough. The sources heartily laughed at it,” Thamel wrote, saying Trump’s comments were intended to court votes in midwestern states.
The Big Ten postponed all fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic. The August 11 decision made the Big Ten the first Power-5 conference to postpone all of its fall sports. At the time, the conference suggested that fall sports could potentially compete in the spring, if the pandemic improves.
More recently, ESPN reports that the Big Ten is considering several plans, with the earliest potential start date being late November. Warren doesn’t control the decision – that must be made, like the cancellation decision, by the presidents of the 14 Big Ten schools. No plan has yet been presented to university presidents.
Radio host Dan Patrick, who broke the news that the Big Ten and Pac-12 would be postponing, says the same source now tells him that Big Ten could be targeting October 10 as a start date, if certain safety measures can be met. That would be the latest date Big Ten football could begin and still be involved in the college football playoffs. But Patrick also says some schools may choose not to play even if the conference decides to start up in October.
DP Gives an update on his Big Ten report: "Why October 10th? That's the latest they can play and still be in the Playoffs." pic.twitter.com/ULl5vXqYIE
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) September 2, 2020
The top division of college football is evenly split between conferences postponing fall sports (Big Ten, Pac-12, MAC, MWC) and conferences moving forward with fall sports (ACC, Big 12, SEC, Sun Belt). The AAC and Conference USA postponed all fall sports but football.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten:
Big Ten Postponed Fall Sports In 11-3 Vote, Per Yahoo
Nebraska football players sued the Big Ten over its decision, claiming the conference hadn’t followed its own procedures of holding an official vote for postponement. As that lawsuit moves forward, more information about the decision has come out. Yahoo Sports reports that the conference presidents voted 11-3 in favor of postponing.
Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio State were the three who opposed postponing, according to Yahoo’s report. Earlier reports had suggested Iowa and Nebraska were the lone holdouts.
Michigan Cuts 21 Athletic Department Positions
The University of Michigan announced today that it would be eliminating 21 positions within its athletic department. That’s in addition to the school’s hiring freeze, which it says left 15 unfilled positions since early 2020.
Notably, Michigan cited a “potential revenue loss of $100 million.” That’s the same figure that Iowa cited in its decision to cut swimming & diving along with two other sports.
Purdue announced last week that its athletic director, head football coach, and head basketball coaches would take 20% salary reductions and donate $1 million collectively to the school’s More Than A Game campaign. That’s in an effort to offset what the school estimates could be a $50 million budget shortfall in Boilermaker Athletics.