Big Ten resumes football after passing on help from President Trump’s White House, report says

After the Big Ten announced Wednesday that it will begin the 2020 football season next month, President Donald Trump took a victory lap on social media and before the White House press corps.

“I called the commissioner a couple of weeks ago, and we started putting a lot of pressure on, frankly, because there was no reason for it not to come back,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.

But it turns out the Big Ten didn’t want Trump’s help.

ABC News reports “the White House offered to provide the college athletic conference with enough COVID-19 tests for play to begin, a university official briefed on the matter and a senior Trump administration official said. The Big Ten ultimately sourced the tests from a private company instead, the officials said.”

Two weeks ago, Trump interjected and expressed hope the Big Ten would reverse its Aug. 11 decision to cancel the fall football season after a call with league’s commissioner Kevin Warren.

“We had very good conversation, very productive, and maybe we will be nicely surprised,” Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. “They had it closed up and I think they’d like to see it opened along with a lot of other football that is being played right now.”

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Trump also tweeted about his conversation with Warren, writing things were “on the one yard line!” even though the Big Ten revealed in a court filing that its presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 to punt of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump offered Warren government assistant with testing capacity, according to a Lettermen Row report.

Trump’s increasing presence in the fray, and his reported offer of assistance, likely added fuel to the efforts to get conference up and running.

Trump’s assistance also probably has something to do with the president’s political motivations for the upcoming election. The Big Ten conference has footprints in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, all of whom are seen as swing states in November’s election against former Vice President Joe Biden.

(NJ Advance Media’s James Kratch contributed to this report.)

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Mike Rosenstein may be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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