Following a weekend of strong reaction to the Big Ten’s postponing of fall sports, the league and its commissioner remained steady in their response Monday.
Some sort of statement — any sort of statement — from Commissioner Kevin Warren or the league in general seemed likely as public feedback grew louder in recent days. On Sunday, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields launched a campaign for the Big Ten to reverse its decision on fall football and had received more than 200,000 signatures by Monday evening. Some Nebraska players were among those pushing the petition on social media.
Meanwhile, parents of Michigan players became the latest group to write a letter to the league asking for a reversal of its decision, or at least more transparency as to how the original judgment was reached. Parents from Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa and Nebraska have already submitted similar documents to the Big Ten.
What other reaction there was around the league Monday actually presented more questions than answers — namely whether presidents of Big Ten schools actually voted in their decision to postpone fall sports last week. Reports have varied greatly, from 12-2 in favor of postponing to 8-6 to no formal vote at all.
Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said it remains “unclear” to her whether a vote occurred. Regardless, she added, she doesn’t see the Big Ten altering course at this point.
“The presidents and chancellors made their decision based on science, based on the information from the medical experts and based on concerns and uncertainty in a number of different categories,” she told the local press on Monday. “I don’t see that (decision) changing.”
According to a Minneapolis television station, University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel last week described the meeting as “a deliberative process where we came to a decision together.”
Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan supported the Big Ten decision in a Zoom call with reporters Monday, specifically naming Warren, Gabel and Gophers Athletic Director Mark Coyle for their work. Morgan, a junior, said he was “a little sad because I want to play football” but accepts the decision.
“They did what was right, what they thought was right, for player health and safety and staff health and safety,” he said. “At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t love to play football — we wouldn’t be in the Big Ten in a prestigious conference. But the Big Ten did what they thought was best for player health and safety, and I commend them for being the conference that actually put player health and safety first. Like they’ve said all along, it’s always been about player health and safety.”
The Pac-12 joined the Big Ten last week as the only Power Five conferences to postpone fall sports thus far, while the Big 12, SEC and ACC continue in their preparation for football in the coming months. Fifty-three of 130 FBS schools have said they won’t play this fall, including 26 of 65 Power Five programs.
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