CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- President Donald Trump has made Big Ten Conference football a priority of his reelection campaign and therefore, sent off another Twitter message Sunday regarding the tropic.
At 10:25 a.m. Sunday, Trump tweeted “Big Ten Football is looking really good, but may lose Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland because of those Governors’ ridiculous lack of interest or political support. They will play without them?”
We, at Illini Now/Sports Illustrated, want to unpack all the elements of this 30-word, 195-character tweet and fact check the elements of it so you, the loyal reader and fan of the Big Ten Conference, can have the proper context and information going forward.
- Illini Now/SI is not entirely clear what President Trump means by “looking good” but he’s most undoubtedly correct that multiple news outlets are reporting that several winter and spring options for a football season are being developed and put in a proposal for the 14 members of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors to overview. Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez is the chairperson of the Big Ten’s return to competition task force, which has gathered information about testing and unanswered health questions surrounding the coronavirus. He said the subcommittee’s role is to work with doctors to answer questions that the Big Ten’s COP/C.
“We’re looking forward, as we gather more information, to have other meetings with chancellors and presidents,” Alvarez said Friday in his report to the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board given during a virtual meeting. “And hopefully we can reschedule the football season and get that started at some point.”
However, Trump has stated via previous tweets that he’d like Big Ten football to begin immediately and Iowa athletics director Gary Barta, whose boss was one of the three members of the Big Ten’s COP/C to vote in August in favor of playing fall sports, said Thursday there would need to be a medical “miracle” in order to start a football season in October.
- It appears by the language “because of those Governors’ ridiculous lack of interest or political support”, Trump is attempting to claim that state governors have final say in whether the Big Ten Conference plays sports. This is not accurate. The state legislation can lobby the individual president or chancellor of a Big Ten institution but as we at Illini Now/SI have previously reported, the final and ultimate decision is reached by the 14 members of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors. The state legislation can and continues to monitor and restrict attendance of these events (an example would be Illinois officials still planning on 25 percent attendance at Memorial Stadium in Champaign all the way up to the shutdown of a fall football season) but can not specifically prohibit the Big Ten Conference from playing sports.
It should also be noted that Trump singled out Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. However, if the reported 11-3 vote is accurate, President Trump ignored Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers when all of the Big Ten schools in their states voted to cancel the 2020 fall sports calendar. Hogan and Holcomb are members of the Republican Party.
- Despite some reporting to the contrary, there was no revote of the Aug. 10 cancellation decision on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and there isn’t one scheduled anytime soon.
- We at Illini Now/SI are honestly not entirely sure what President Trump means with his language of “lose Michigan, Illinois and Maryland” (other than he’s projected to lose those states in the Nov. election) because just like the last vote, a vote on a winter or spring football schedule would be honored by the entire 14-school membership. No media outlet is reporting Illinois, Michigan or Maryland is willing to sit out a winter or spring season and Illini Now/SI can confirm the Illini football program has continued to operate under the 12-hour rules of practice and meetings set up by the NCAA and Big Ten Conference offices. Therefore the implication and punctuation of President Trump’s final sentence of “They will play without them?” must be categorized as pure speculation that is misleading and a claim that, as of today, has no basis of confirmed fact, source quotes or verifiable truth behind it.
We at Illini Now/SI hope this context and fact checking of the President of the United States helps in keeping you, the loyal reader and Big Ten Conference fan, properly informed as we all continue to wait on news of a winter or spring football season.