The Ohio State football coach is fighting for a chance to play this fall, while the Ohio attorney general has suggested the university sue the Big Ten Conference.
Ohio attorney general Dave Yost reportedly told The Columbus Dispatch that, after studying Ohio State’s contracts with the Big Ten, state lawyers believe the university in Columbus have an “excellent contract claim for several tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.”
Yost’s comments come about a month after the Big Ten announced it was postponing all fall sports seasons due to COVID-19, with the hopes of playing later this school year. A number of Big Ten players, coaches, athletic directors, parents and fans have protested the decision, which was made in concert with the Pac-12. The remainder of the Power 5 conferences, the ACC, SEC and Big 12, have already begun to play — or will begin to later this month.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Yost said that if talks of restarting the football season fall apart, “I think we have a cause of action” for violating contracts and for illegal interference in a business relationship.
The loss of the football season, as well as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last spring, have a number of schools forecasting budget deficits of around $100 million. Iowa and Minnesota have already cut athletic programs, as every university has had to adjust.
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Yost said he hasn’t talked with Ohio State officials about the prospect of suing the Big Ten. However, Ohio State officials have been relatively outspoken on their own. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported that Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa were the only Big Ten’s member schools that originally voted against postponing the season.
Ohio State football coach Ryan Day made his most forceful statement Thursday, saying, “While I understand the Big Ten Conference’s decision to postpone the football season because of health and safety considerations, the communication of information from the Big Ten following the decision has been disappointing and often unclear. However, we still have an opportunity to give our young men what they have worked so hard for: a chance to safely compete for a national championship this fall.
“I couldn't possibly be prouder of how this team, our medical personnel, athletic director and president have stayed together and managed through this extremely difficult time with so many unanswered questions. The Big Ten medical subcommittee has done an excellent job of creating a safe pathway toward returning to play in mid-October.
"These young men and their parents have asked so many questions that I do not have an answer to, but the one that hurts the most is, 'Why can these other teams and players play and we can't? Duke is playing Notre Dame, and Clemson is playing Wake Forest this weekend. Our players want to know: Why can't they play?"
Similarly, Penn State coach James Franklin also told ESPN Radio’s Keshawn, JWill & Zubin Thursday that his issue with the Big Ten is the timing and the process of the decision.
“The reality is we’re dependent on the Big Ten to drive this thing forward,” Franklin said. “A big part of leadership is to be able to deliver answers to people's questions, and also to be able to drive people toward a vision and drive people towards a plan. And right now, we don't have those things. That's been the issue. We just haven't gotten great communication from the beginning. We've never really fully been told or understood why the season was shut down in the first place, and there hasn't been a whole lot of communication since. When I say communication, we've had meetings, but I'm talking about really understanding why and what and how we got here."
In the past month, there have been discussions of starting a Big Ten season in the spring, in January, in November and even in October. Another vote is reportedly set to happen “very soon.”
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Big Ten campuses are in a variety of COVID-19 situations as school has started back up, including Wisconsin shutting down practice for two weeks while also closing down two residence halls.
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