Men's College Basketball

President Trump ‘had nothing to do’ with Big Ten’s decision to resume football season, report says

Public perception is that President Donald Trump helped the Big Ten decide to resume the 2020 football season.

Turns out that wasn’t the case.

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NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander talked to a Big Ten president “involved in the decision to resume the season.” According to that source, Trump wasn’t involved at all, and actually made things more complicated.

“President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations. In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative because no one wanted this to be political.”

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

“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.

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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