In a written response to the lawsuit filed by eight Nebraska football players against the Big Ten, the conference revealed on Monday that the university presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 in favor of postponing the football season.
The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach reported the following, saying the league is planning to release additional information about the postponement decision:
Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 to postpone the fall college football season due to health and safety concerns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a brief and two sworn affidavits filed by the league on Monday.
The details in the documents indicate that the conference now intends to provide some transparency to the players and the parents who have repeatedly called for it regarding the league’s decision-making process on the way to postponement, even while the Big Ten is seeking the dismissal of the relevant lawsuit filed last week by eight Nebraska football players. The league called the suit “a baseless complaint” in its filing on Monday.
Among the information that might turn up, a source indicated to The Athletic: documented failures and shortcomings in schools’ ability to follow contact tracing, testing and prevention guidelines that league presidents knew about but did not publicly cite as support for their decision. In the wake of the Aug. 11 announcement, another source said that the Big Ten was aware of at least 10 athlete cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that can lead to an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest. A three-month study conducted by Ohio State director of sports cardiology Dr. Curt Daniels found that approximately 15 percent of college athletes who had tested positive for COVID-19, almost all of whom experienced mild or no symptoms, were also found to have contracted myocarditis. That was, as the New York Times described it, “an alarmingly high rate” for an otherwise rare heart condition. If myocarditis is more prevalent in coronavirus cases than other viruses, that is an important risk factor. The study awaits peer review, though its preliminary findings were shared with both the Big Ten and the Pac-12 prior to their postponement decisions.
Those who have been begging and pleading with the league to help them understand why the season was postponed are going to get some answers.
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reported that Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State were the three schools who voted against postponing fall sports.
While the Pac-12's decision to delay the season was unanimous, the Big Ten's unclear message to fans and teams over the last month has led to significant scrutiny. Prior to today, Big Ten fans weren't even sure that an actual vote occurred. Both Minnesota president Joan Gabel and Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour indicated that the "vote" was rather informal, if it was really a true vote in the first place. But the league always maintained publicly that there was overwhelming support to postpone the season.
With the decision to cancel has come significant backlash. There have been a number of protests across the league, including at the conference headquarters and at the Horseshoe last Saturday. Justin Fields also circulated a petition that amassed more than 300,000 signatures to reinstate the football season. But the most significant action taken during the fight to reverse the decision came from the eight Nebraska football players who filed a lawsuit last week.