There have been a flurry of reports this morning about college athletics, including a Big Ten spokesperson denying that the conference voted to cancel the football season.
Though changes to fall sports wouldn’t technically impact swimming & diving (a winter sport at the college level), disruptions to the fall season could impact fall training and competition for college swimming programs, and the cancellation of football could have major financial implications on college athletic departments in a year where multiple Division I schools have already cut swimming programs. We run through some of the breaking news updates piece by piece below:
Big Ten Spokesman Denies Football Cancellation
A source told radio host Dan Patrick this morning that presidents of the fourteen Big Ten schools had voted 12-2 to cancel the fall football season. That came after weekend rumblings that the conference was leaning towards cancellation.
But a Big Ten spokesman told reporter Pete Thamel (among others) that the Big Ten presidents had not held a vote on canceling the season. TheSpun interpreted the conflicting reports with a theory: “Some believe the Big Ten may have leaked the news itself to see the public’s reaction,” TheSpun writes.
Final Decision Coming Monday Night?
Yet another reporter now says the Big Ten presidents will meet again on Monday night at 6 PM Eastern Time and will make a final decision on the fall football season:
The Big Ten's presidents are scheduled to meet again on a call at 6 o'clock ET tonight, when they'll make the final decision on the football season, per source.
— Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch) August 10, 2020
Trump, Nebraska Senator Weigh In
If the rumor of the vote was a strategy to test public opinion, it certainly stirred up plenty of discussion. Many student-athletes have weighed in on social media with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, calling for college football, among other sports, to continue – though athletes are also calling for schools to establish health and safety standards, and to allow athletes to opt out and retain eligibility if they wish. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, arguably college football’s biggest star, has publicly supported that movement.
President Donald Trump weighed in Monday, retweeting Lawrence’s tweet and calling for the college football season to continue:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse drafted a letter to the Big Ten, arguing for college football’s fall season to continue. Nebraska was one of two schools (along with Iowa) to vote against the cancellation of the football season, at least according to the Dan Patrick Show.
Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh Writes Letter
On the coaching side, Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh also wrote a statement supporting the college football season in the fall and opposing cancellation. Harbaugh cites the school’s testing data, which he says so far has turned up just 11 positive tests over about two months, including zero positive tests among the last 353 administered.
Letter from Jim Harbaugh on wanting to play the season and why he thinks it can happen. pic.twitter.com/wUlf8q4vYr
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) August 10, 2020
Old Dominion Postpones Football & Fall Sports
Meanwhile another college in the FBS (the highest level of NCAA Division I football) has officially postponed its fall season. Old Dominion University of Conference USA has announced that it will postpone all fall sports, including football. The school hopes to play fall sports in the spring.
Pac-12 Remains Up in the Air; SEC To Hold Impromptu Meeting
The Big Ten and Pac-12 were originally rumored to be the two Power-5 conferences leaning towards cancellation. Reports say the Pac-12 hasn’t yet made a decision, and won’t until tomorrow, at the earliest. The Pac-12 has already had football players threaten to boycott the season if the conference doesn’t meet a list of demands ranging from health and safety protections to name/image/likeness reform to social justice initiatives.
And Sports Illustrated reports that the SEC will hold an impromptu meeting with its presidents and chancellors tonight. Athletic directors from the SEC met for a regularly-scheduled call already today. Dan Patrick had previously reported that the ACC and Big 12 were on the fence about cancelling the season, and the SEC was attempting to get other teams to join the conference for the season.