CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- In a live, town hall discussion on national television, the president of the United States reiterated his position that the Big Ten Conference should play football as soon as possible.
In ABC’s ‘The President and the People’ 90-minute special event where President Donald Trump took questions from members of the studio audience and host George Stephanopoulos, Trump mentioned the Big Ten and his desire to see that conference play football this fall.
After a question regarding the coronavirus, Stephanopoulos specifically mentioned Trump’s statements throughout this summer about COVID-19 about the disease including the president saying “it’ll disappear” and Trump doubled down on his viewpoint saying “it is going to disappear George”.
“It is going to disappear, it’ll disappear,” Trump said. “I still say that. It is going to disappear George. We’re not going to have studios like this where you have all this empty space in between people. I want to see people. You want to see people. I want to see football games. I’m pushing hard for Big Ten. I want to see the Big Ten open back up for the football games. Let them play sports. But no, it’s going to disappear George.”
As of 8 p.m. CST on Tuesday (when the town hall program began), an announcement on a reversal of the Big Ten’s original cancelation of the 2020 fall sports calendar, including football, had yet to be made despite numerous reports of meetings and talks surrounding the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors.
Three hours before the start of the ABC program, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported via unnamed sources that a proposal has been approved for the conference to play its 2020 season this fall but a starting date for games wasn’t exactly known.
In the midst of answering Stephanopoulos’ follow-up questions, Trump said COVID-19 “would go away without a vaccine over time” and mentioned the idea of “herd immunity” where people can build up antibodies in their system after being infected with the disease.
LSU football coach Ed Orgeron mentioned the concept of herd immunity regarding his football program Tuesday when he confirmed that most of his defending national championship team has contracted COVID-19.
"Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it," Orgeron told reporters. "I think that hopefully they won't catch it again, and hopefully they're not out for games...Hopefully that once you catch it, you don't get it again. I'm not a doctor. I think they have that 90-day window, so most of the players that have caught it, we do feel like they'll be eligible for games."
Southeastern Conference protocols say players who have contracted COVID-19 don't have to be tested again for another 90 days.
Trump said on Sept. 1 that he “had a very productive conversation” with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren without getting into details about the substance of that phone call.
“I had a phone call with Kevin Warren. I think (the phone call) was very productive about getting the Big Ten playing again immediately,” President Trump said to media before he departed to Kenosha, Wisconsin on the morning of Sept. 1. “(Warren) is a great guy. It’s a great conference, tremendous teams. We’re pushing very hard...we had a very nice conversation and maybe we’ll be nicely surprised. They had it closed up but I think they’d like to see it reopened along with a lot of other football that is being played right now.”
Less than two hours after the president’s tweet, the league released a statement confirming the call between President Trump and Warren took place.
“A White House representative reached out to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren on Monday to facilitate a phone call between President Donald Trump and Commissioner Warren. On Tuesday, Commissioner Warren and the President had a productive conversation,” the Big Ten Conference’s statement reads. “The Big Ten and its Return to Competition Task Force, on behalf of the Big Ten Council of Presidents & Chancellors (COP/C), are exhausting every resource to help student-athletes get back to playing the sports they love, at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible.”
President Trump has made it no secret his desire for the restart of Big Ten Conference football and has intertwined in his reelection campaign as he said earlier this month that the “biggest headwind” to the Big Ten Conference restarting fall sports operations are “Democrats that don’t want to see it happen”. Trump is clearly attempting to appeal to the Big Ten Conference fans in Midwest states he and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are currently in a close battle with during the 2020 presidential election.