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Big Ten Parents Push Back Against No Football Call

Paul Steinbach

Big Ten Conference member teams and their followers aren't taking the cancellation of fall football lying down.

The conference announced Aug. 11 that it was postponing the season, with the hope of staging games in spring. The announcement came only six days after the Big Ten released a revised schedule for fall football and on the same day the conference reviewed a report about myocarditis — a heart condition believed to be a potential consequence of COVID-19 exposure. 

Related: Big Ten Medical Report Details Serious Cardio Concerns

University of Iowa football players last week held a Zoom call with 181 participants before drafting a letter Thursday night directed at Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors. As rported by The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, the letter outlined the following requests:

• A meeting with commissioner and committee members with meaningful and thorough explanations to a group of representatives that include parents, players and coaches.

• To be able to ask questions and get direct answers and to have a say in the decision-making process.

• To be able to review a full action plan including protocols and safety measures.

• To respond to us no later than end of business on August 19.

Related: Iowa Parents Ask Big Ten to Reconsider Season

Parents representing at least four Big Ten member schools — Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State and Nebraska — have sent letters to the conference asking it to reverse its decision, as reported by The Daily Times of Swarthmore, Pa.

More than 80 parents signed the Penn State letter, which cited Warren’s statement on Aug. 5 that he would be comfortable for his son, who plays football at Mississippi State, to participate in the Big Ten based upon the testing policies, protocols and procedures that have been in place. 

“We want to know what changed in six days,” the Penn State parents’ letter read, “and why was this decision rushed before the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA could answer some of the most basic questions regarding the futures of these student-athletes.

On Sunday, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started a petition requesting the Big Ten immediately reinstate the 2020 football season. The would-be Heisman Trophy candidate tweeted that "this cause is close to my heart" and urged people to sign. By 9 a.m. ET Monday, more than 223,000 already had, according to ESPN.

The campaign said it is asking the Big Ten to allow its players and teams to make their own choices as to whether they wish to play or opt out of the fall season.

In an interview with ESPN, Fields had more to say to league officials. "My biggest message to them would just be to get them to realize how bad our players want to play and just the guys that are coming back for their fifth year, coming back off of injury, I think that we owe it to those guys the most," Fields said. "I've just seen behind the scenes all the work that they've put in and how much they really care about it. And I honestly believe all the coaches and all the parents, players want us to play, and they all feel safe with the guidelines Ohio State has set."

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