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Penn State AD Unsure Official Big Ten Vote Took Place

Paul Steinbach

Penn State University director of athletics Sandy Barbour said Monday that she’s not sure whether the Big Ten Conference presidents held an official vote to postpone fall sports to the spring semester because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It is unclear to me whether or not there was a vote,” Barbour said during a video conference, as reported by the Reading Eagle. “No one’s ever told me there was. I just don’t know whether there actually was a vote by the chancellors and presidents.”

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren announced Aug. 11 that the conference presidents and chancellors decided to postpone fall sports but didn't reveal how the leaders voted. The margin was speculated to be as wide as 12-2 among the 14 member institutions, or as narrow as 8-6 — if a vote was even tabulated.

“I’d rather not have a detailed discussion on whether the vote was unanimous,” Warren said on the Big Ten Network. “This is a decision that was made on a collective basis.”

“I was not in the room or on Zoom,” Barbour said. “It’s unclear to me whether there was ever a vote or not. But it is clear to me that Penn State and [university president] Eric Barron, both on our campus and as he took his thoughts to the various conversations with the Big Ten, had explored every option.”

It is believed that a report on potential COVID-19 impacts, including a heart condition known as myocarditis, influenced the Big Ten's decision to delay fall sports.

Several Big Ten athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19 reportedly have been diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Barbour was asked if those reports were the overriding factors in why the Big Ten's position changed so suddenly.

"It was little bits of information, as well as the rate of information coming in," Barbour said. "We've been talking about myocarditis on our campus for probably two months. We've been fortunate enough that we have not diagnosed any of our positive students with myocarditis at this point."

Parents of football players from Penn State, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio State have written letters to the presidents and to Warren, asking the presidents to reconsider their decision and for Warren to hold a Zoom conference meeting to better explain why the conference postponed fall sports less than a week after rolling out a revised 2020 football schedule.

"The presidents and chancellors made their decision based on science, based on the information from medical experts, based on the concerns and uncertainty in a number of different categories," Barbour said. "I don’t see that changing, but I also appreciate the passion of our parents and our student-athletes."

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