Ten lawmakers from six states, including Iowa, sent a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and the conference’s presidents and chancellors on Tuesday urging the league to reconsider its decision to postpone its football season.
Lee Chatfield, speaker of Michigan’s House of Representatives, wrote the letter, which was signed by nine other political leaders. Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives Pat Grassley and Iowa State Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver signed Chatfield’s letter. Senate and house leaders from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also signed the letter.
All 10 of the lawmakers who signed the letter are Republicans. They represent six states that include seven Big Ten schools.
The Big Ten announced Aug. 11 that all fall sports, including football, had been postponed in the conference because of ongoing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. As first reported by ESPN, the conference’s presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 in favor of postponing fall sports. Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio State wanted to continue with the conference’s fall schedule.
“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,” the letter reads. “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.
“This is even more frustrating when we think of how our Big Ten athletic programs are leading the way by providing outstanding health and safety protocols.”
The B1G can play sports safely. And the B1G should play sports safely. They should reverse the decision. Here’s a letter that Midwest legislative leaders sent to Commissioner Warren today urging the reconsideration of the decision to cancel fall sports. Let’s go! #LetTheB1GPlay pic.twitter.com/Q89JaZwLQ6
— Lee Chatfield (@LeeChatfield) September 8, 2020
On Aug. 5, the Big Ten released an updated 2020 football schedule. That schedule had the conference’s season starting on Sept. 5, but was structured to “maximize flexibility” and games could be pushed to a later date if they needed to be postponed because of COVID-19.
The same day, the conference also released its updated COVID-19 medical protocols, which included Big Ten athletes being tested at least once weekly.
“Just last month, under your leadership, the Big Ten released updated and enhanced testing, quarantine, and safety policies,” the letter reads. “Our coaches and players should be given a chance to make them work. After all, this region is home to some of the world’s leading institutions of higher learning, scientific research and medicine, and we are confident that they can continue to safeguard the health and safety of our student athletes.”
Chatfield’s letter is the latest instance of politicians urging the Big Ten to revisit its decision.
President Donald Trump has tweeted that he wants to see the Big Ten compete this fall, and recently he spoke with Warren.
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
Big Ten Football is looking really good, but may lose Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland because of those Governors’ ridiculous lack of interest or political support. They will play without them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2020
In an open letter to the Big Ten community on Aug. 19, Warren said that the Big Ten’s decision to postpone will not be revisited.