Midwest republican lawmakers call on Big Ten to play football

U.S. & World

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — This week a group of 10 state legislators sent a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren calling for school presidents and chancellors to reverse their decision to postpone the 2020 fall football season.

The Big Ten announced two months ago that fall sports would be postponed until the spring due to the coronavirus after an 11-3 vote by presidents and chancellors at Big Ten schools.

Ohio State President Dr. Kristina Johnson voted in favor of playing fall sports.

“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,” read a letter from the state legislators.

The letter goes on to say that the Big Ten is at a disadvantage with other schools continuing to play football. Ohio State Sen. Matt Huffman signed the letter and says he’s worried the communities that surround these schools will also be at a disadvantage.

“I don’t think anyone is going to refute the economic impact of Ohio State University football in the state of Ohio and all of these universities in the Great Lakes states,” said Sen. Huffman (R-Lima). 

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost also said if the Big Ten season is canceled, he will recommend Ohio State file a lawsuit against the Big Ten. 

Some have called the move politically motivated. The letter is signed by all Republican lawmakers who are all in battleground states for the 2020 election.

“These are almost all public universities that are receiving public dollars, so they very much should be subject to public pressure from elected representatives,” said Sen. Huffman.   

The Big Ten has responded to the letter saying in a statement:

“We could not agree more with the group of midwest legislators who stated in a letter to Commissioner Kevin Warren that the Big Ten Conference is “home to some of the world’s leading institutions of higher learning, scientific research and medicine.” The Big Ten’s Return to Competition Task Force is tapping into those resources as it prepares for a safe return to competition. The letter reflects that we all want the same thing, which is for “sports to continue safely. The conference will continue to work with the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C), as it has always done, to identify opportunities to resume competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Senator Huffman says this will not be the end from state legislators and added he has spoken with some of his colleagues at the Ohio Statehouse who are preparing a resolution of their own.

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