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LINCOLN — Though Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said via text Wednesday he wasn’t aware of any vote being scheduled over the next five days, a Chicago Tribune report said the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors may vote this weekend on a potential return-to-competition date for college football.
The news comes as the ACC and Big 12 are set to start play this weekend. The SEC will start play Sept. 26. The Big Ten and Pac-12 chose to postpone their seasons Aug. 11 and have been waiting on a return since then.
Speaking to Lincoln radio station KLIN, University of Nebraska President Ted Carter said a vote could happen “very soon,” though he didn’t specify how soon the Big Ten COP/C might choose to reconsider its 11-3 vote to postpone. A source has confirmed Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio State were the schools to vote for playing football Aug. 11. On Aug. 19, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren wrote in a letter that the decision wouldn’t be revisited, but through the Big Ten’s Return to Competition Task Force, it clearly is being revisited. Moos said last week that the earliest date the Big Ten is considering a return to football is Thanksgiving week. He rebuffed reports of an Oct. 10 start date as “just a rumor.”
It hasn’t stopped lawmakers from around the Big Ten footprint in writing letters to the COP/C and Warren.
A bipartisan group of 28 Nebraska lawmakers sent a letter Wednesday to Big Ten presidents and chancellors, plus Warren, to “transparently reconsider” their Aug. 11 vote to postpone fall sports.
The letter, written by State Sen. Julie Slama of Peru, says the conference “disregarded” the success of Big Ten schools managing the spread of COVID-19 throughout their athletic programs.
“The Big Ten’s cancellation of fall sports has been devastating for our student athletes, athletic department and local businesses,” Slama said in a press release. “Other conferences have shown that football and other fall sports can be conducted safely.”
The letter asks the conference to reconsider its decision in a “more transparent manner.”
The lack of transparency recently prompted a lawsuit against the conference by eight Nebraska football players, seeking more explanation for the Big Ten’s decision.
Though the unicameral Legislature is officially nonpartisan, senators who identify with either the Democratic or Republican parties have signed the letter. One, Sen. Mike Moser of Columbus, contracted COVID-19 and spent more than a month in the University of Nebraska Medical Center receiving treatment.
Slama, who represents District 1, is running for re-election this fall. Her letter comes on the heels of Republican lawmakers in six Big Ten states asking for the Big Ten to reconsider its vote.
The Big Ten responded to the Republicans’ letter on Wednesday with a statement of its own.
“The letter reflects that we all want the same thing, which is ‘continue sports safely.’ The conference will continue to work with the COP/C, as it has always done, to identify opportunities to resume competition as it is safe to do so.”
Late Wednesday night, Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said the football program would be taking a two-week break from on campus activities in concordance with the university’s decision to stop in-person classes due to the rise of coronavirus cases on campus. The two-week break would mean Wisconsin returns to team activity Sept. 23.
The Big Ten's decision to postpone its football season has now become a point of contention in the upcoming presidential election. Sam McKewon explains how this turned into a political football.