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Parents Threaten to Sue Big Ten, Protest at League HQ

Brock Fritz

In the wake of the Big Ten Conference confirming there won’t be sports this fall, parents of Big Ten football players threatened a lawsuit and followed through on their plan to protest at conference headquarters.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg was tweeting from the protest in Rosemont, Ill., which was organized by Randy Wade, the dad of Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade. The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein tweeted that the rally included about 30 protesters and 35 media members. Rittenberg reported that Randy Wade said the goal was to speak with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren.

Warren has received a lot of flak since the Aug. 11 announcement canceling all Big Ten fall sports in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the conference is pursuing the possibility of playing traditional fall sports in the second semester of the 2020-21 school year, players, parents, coaches and athletic directors have spent the last 10 days requesting more information about the decision to cancel while other conferences are moving forward. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said that the Big Ten and Pac-12 playing a winter or spring season after the other major conferences play in the fall would be like a junior varsity season.

Related content: Big Ten Parents Push Back Against No Football Call

Warren tried to answer the public’s concerns with Wednesday’s open letter saying that the league’s decision is final, and spelling out some of the health concerns that led to the decision.

“I write on this occasion to share with you additional information regarding the Big Ten Conference’s decision to postpone the 2020-21 fall sports season,” Warren’s letter reads. “We thoroughly understand and deeply value what sports mean to our student-athletes, their families, our coaches and our fans. The vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited. The decision was thorough and deliberative, and based on sound feedback, guidance and advice from medical experts.”

Related content: Big Ten Commissioner: Decision to Cancel Fall is Final

While Rittenberg reported that Ohio State and Iowa parents made up the majority of the early morning crowd at Big Ten HQ, Nebraska parents have been busy drafting a letter to the Big Ten — and threatening a lawsuit.

The Nebraska parents’ letter, which included attorney Mike Flood and came after Warren’s announcement, wants even more transparency.

“We hereby demand that the Conference immediately produce all documents relating to all ‘votes’ regarding whether to cancel, postpone, or delay fall sports, including (a) the results of all such votes, including how each Council member voted; (b) all meeting minutes reflecting all such votes’ (c) all audio and video recordings and transcripts of all meetings at which all such votes were cast; (d) all Conference Bylaws and/or Rules and Regulations governing the decision-making process; and (e) all assessments, memorandums, studies, scientific data and any other medical information and/or advice considered by the Council in the process of making a decision, based health concerns, not to allow student athletes enough that it will agree to be transparent with them about these decisions and how they were reached,” the letter reads.

“If the documents are not delivered to the undersigned by 12:00 p.m. Central on Monday, August 24, 2020, we will have no choice but to file suit in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska seeking the documents and asking the Court to order immediate relief. Govern yourself accordingly.”

Related content: Nebraska, Commissioner Square Off Over Fall Football

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