Trump celebrates as Big Ten announces college football's return weeks after deferring: 'Honored to help'
The emergence of daily rapid-response Covid-19 testing might have helped trigger a re-vote over the commencement of football
The Big Ten Conference and its Council of Presidents and Chancellors have voted unanimously to bring the popular football tournament back just weeks after announcing the postponement of all fall semester sports. “Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said on Wednesday, September 16 morning, revealing that the football season will resume on October 23.
“Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love. We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force have accomplished to ensure the health, safety, and wellness of student-athletes, coaches, and administrators," he added.
It is being said that the emergence of daily rapid-response Covid-19 testing helped trigger a re-vote, especially since it was not available when university officials made the decision to pull the plug on the season. Recently, the Pac-12 announced a partnership with a diagnostic lab that has pledged to give Big Ten schools the capacity to test athletes on a daily basis.
Each team will reportedly have an eight-game schedule, albeit further details are yet to be released. The conference has enforced strict medical protocols that include "daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening for students who may test positive, and rigorous data monitoring that will determine how schools can proceed with practices and games," Fox News reported.
Daily testing is slated to begin on September 20, and student-athletes who test positive at any point are required to wait at least 21 days from their diagnosis to return to the field. The move comes after increasing pressure from coaches, parents, a lawsuit from players, as well as President Donald Trump's big push for bringing back Big Ten. It's worth noting that the key swath of swing states where the November election is expected to be decided come under the Big Ten's footprint, and Trump has gained considerable traction by relentlessly prodding the Big Ten to resume the games this fall, even having a conversation with commissioner Kevin Warren for the same.
Trump celebrated Big Ten's return on Twitter on September 16, adding that he was honored to "have helped." "Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!" the president wrote.
Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2020
The previous night, he told ABC News, “I’m pushing very hard for Big Ten, I want to see Big Ten open. Let the football games – let them play sports.” It is safe to say that the return of the Big Ten is set to become a major political talking point in battleground states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all of which are essential for Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden come November.
Meanwhile, Big 10 has said it will "shortly" make an announcement regarding other fall and winter sports as well, including basketball, ice hockey, swimming, diving, and wrestling.