Midwest legislative leaders urge Big Ten to reconsider fall sports

‘Big Ten’s current direction is the wrong choice’

Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and other Midwest legislative leaders announced Tuesday they sent a joint letter to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren encouraging the conference to reconsider its stance on the fall sports season.

The Big Ten Conference announced on Aug. 11 that it would move its football season to the spring semester because of health risks associated with the coronavirus. Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted Big Ten members University of Michigan and Michigan State University could be excluded from the next football season due to the governor’s response to the coronavirus.

“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,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “They will play without them?”

Big Ten officials confirmed that they spoke with a White House representative this week. The conference’s Return To Competition Task Force is “exhausting every resource to help student-athletes get back to playing the sports they love at the appropriate time in the safest, healthiest way possible,” officials said.

Chatfield released this statement on Tuesday:

“The Big Ten’s current direction is the wrong choice for the conference, for our area universities, and – worst of all – for thousands of our local students. As a former student athlete, a teacher, a coach, an athletic director, and now as a parent, I know how important sports can be to young people and their development. I also know how much support restarting football and other fall sports has among players, coaches, parents, and the many people who have reached out to our offices demanding a change. The Big Ten should reverse course as soon as possible and do everything possible to help their students restart extracurricular activities safely.”

When the postponement was initially announced, University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh urged for the season go on as scheduled.

Last week, the Michigan High School School Athletic Association (MHSAA) reinstated football and other high school sports. The MHSAA reinstated local sports following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive order that lifted restrictions on organized sports.