Iowa Legislative Leaders Encourage Big Ten to Reconsider Football Decision

Sports

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa lawmakers are among the leaders of six state legislatures who sent a letter to the Big Ten commissioner asking the conference to reconsider its decision to postpone the fall football season.

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver signed a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. State leaders from Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are also part of the letter.

The letter says they have heard from concerned students, parents, and coaches against the decision to postpone the fall season. Lawmakers say the decision puts their students at a disadvantage and schools stand to lose millions of dollars in scholarships.

They also say that Big Ten leaders were putting into place outstanding protocols to keep everyone safe and these protocols were all cast aside.  

The Big Ten, and Warren in particular, have received strong pushback since the conference announced that university presidents voted to push back football and other fall sports until the second semester because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started a petition seeking a reversal, parents of players held a protest outside Big Ten headquarters and eight Nebraska players filed a lawsuit.

The full letter to Warren reads: 

“We would like to express our desire for the Big Ten Conference to reconsider the decision to cancel the football season. After hearing from many concerned students, parents and coaches, we have been encouraged to convey our support for their wishes and our responsibility to defend the students’ long-term academic and career interests.

Recent actions taken by other conferences across the country to start football and other fall sports have placed the Big Ten, its members and students at a disadvantage. These athletes are losing a vital part of student life and are becoming less marketable to future employers with each passing week. Additionally, our local universities stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars that support vital student scholarships.

This is even more frustrating when we think of how our Big Ten athletic programs are leading the way by providing outstanding health and safety protocols. All of that unprecedented planning and teamwork was an unmitigated success, and yet somehow the conference has decided to cast it aside anyway.

Just last month, under your leadership, the Big Ten released updated and enhanced testing, quarantine and isolation policies. Our coaches and players should be given a chance to make them work. After all, this region is home to some of the world’s leading institutions of higher learning, scientific research and medicine, and we are confident that they can continue to safeguard the health and safety of our student athletes.”

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