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Trump talks to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren about starting football season 'immediately'

Trump talks to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren about starting football season 'immediately'

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Donald Trump, AP generic file photo

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, in Washington.

Ahead of his visit to Kenosha on Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted he’d spoken to Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren about starting the football season “immediately.”

Kevin Warren

Warren

“Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football,” Trump’s tweet read. “Would be good (great!) for everyone - Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!”

The Big Ten’s decision to cancel the fall sports season due to COVID-19 was met with criticism, as was the conference’s lack of detail regarding why they made the decision when they did. Warren released an open letter Aug. 19 stating that the decision to play fall sports “won’t be revisited” and listed factors in the conference’s choice. Still, parent groups from Big Ten schools complained, and pushed for the season to be reinstated.

Trump began tweeting about the Big Ten not playing football last week, writing: “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.”

Documents revealed as part of a lawsuit filed by eight football players at Nebraska showed Big Ten presidents on Aug. 11 voted 11-3 to cancel the fall season, which shifted the conference’s focus to creating plans for a spring-semester season. The only schools voting to play were Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State.

Warren doesn’t have the power to unilaterally start the season — the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors would need to vote again to do that. Big Ten COP/C bylaws state 60 percent of the council had to vote to cancel the fall seasons, so if a vote to restart them held the same standard, six voters would need to flip their vote.

So far, the Big Ten’s Return to Competition Task Force has been evaluating start dates as early as Thanksgiving and as late and late January. 

Recent developments in testing, such a $5 antigen test created by Abbott Laboratories, can diagnose a COVID-19 infection in about 15 minutes. UW athletic director Barry Alvarez told reporters earlier this month that a rapid-response test would be beneficial in order to keep practices and games free of infected players, but a UW-produced saliva test wasn’t fast enough for such a use. Warren’s open letter said, "Accurate and widely available rapid testing may help mitigate (contact tracing and quarantining) concerns, but access to accurate tests is currently limited.”

Football and fall sports as a whole returning would help Big Ten programs avoid major revenue losses, which University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said this summer would be about $100 million for his department.


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