Elected leaders in Michigan have added their voices to calls for the Big Ten Conference to reconsider its decision to cancel the fall football season.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Lee Chatfield, the state’s speaker of the house, and Mike Shirkey, the majority leader in the state senate, sent a letter to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and to the conference’s 14 university presidents urging them to allow for football to be played.
Chatfield and Shirkey, both republicans, got their letter co-signed by republican leaders in other states who have schools in the Big Ten, including Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“The Big Ten’s current direction is the wrong choice for the conference, for our area universities, and – worst of all – for thousands of our local students,” Chatfield said in a statement. “As a former student athlete, a teacher, a coach, an athletic director, and now as a parent, I know how important sports can be to young people and their development. I also know how much support restarting football and other fall sports has among players, coaches, parents, and the many people who have reached out to our offices demanding a change. The Big Ten should reverse course as soon as possible and do everything possible to help their students restart extracurricular activities safely.”
The letter the group sent to Warren reads:
We would like to express our desire for the Big Ten Conference to reconsider the decision to cancel the football season. 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.
Recent actions taken by other conferences across the country to start football and other fall sports have placed the Big Ten, its members and students at a disadvantage. These athletes are losing a vital part of student life and are becoming less marketable to future employers with each passing week. Additionally, our local universities stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars that support vital student scholarships.
This is even more frustrating when we think of how our Big Ten athletic programs are leading the way by providing outstanding health and safety protocols. All of that unprecedented planning and teamwork was an unmitigated success, and yet somehow the conference has decided to cast it aside anyway.
Just last month, under your leadership, the Big Ten released updated and enhanced testing, quarantine and isolation policies. Our coaches and players should be given a chance to make them work. After all, this region is home to some of the world’s leading institutions of higher learning, scientific research and medicine, and we are confident that they can continue to safeguard the health and safety of our student athletes.
The support among players, parents, coaches and fans is overwhelming. Therefore, we respectfully ask that you take their concerns to heart and work with the leadership at our universities to allow sports to continue safely this fall.