LARAMIE — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to say he had a “very productive conversation” with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren about the conference playing football this fall, but the leader of the free world hasn’t reached out to any other Football Bowl Subdivision conferences that also decided to postpone football and other fall sports, including the Mountain West.
A Mountain West spokesman told the Star-Tribune he was not aware of any attempt by the president to contact the league. Citing anonymous sources, CBS Sports reported Trump also hasn’t been in contact with the Pac-12 or the Mid-American Conference, which have also postponed fall sports indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Would be good (great!) for everyone involved — players, fans, country,” part of Trump’s tweet read. “On the one yard line!”
In a statement reported by Yahoo Sports, the Big Ten acknowledged a phone call Tuesday between Trump and Warren, adding the league is “exhausting every resource to help get student-athletes back to playing the sports they love, at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible.”
The decision made to pause fall sports by the Mountain West and the other three leagues while the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Sun Belt, Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference still plan to play this fall has received some pushback. In no conference has it been stronger than the Big Ten, which for weeks has lacked transparency in the voting process among its university presidents and chancellors.
While parents of Big Ten players have protested the league’s decision and eight Nebraska football players have brought a lawsuit against the conference seeking the reinstatement of the football season, two Big Ten presidents — Michigan State’s Samuel L. Stanley and Minnesota’s Joan Gabel — told reporters after the conference announced its decision Aug. 11 that there wasn’t a traditional vote.
It wasn’t until the Big Ten responded to the lawsuit Monday that it revealed the league’s presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 to postpone fall sports. Warren said when the league announced its decision that it wouldn’t be revisited.
The Pac-12 released a 12-page report that included data from medical professionals as part of its reasoning for postponing sports competitions for the rest of the year. The Mountain West did not release any documentation related to the feedback it got from the medical advisers it consulted with, but University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel said in a recent interview with the Star-Tribune there was a “strong, strong consensus” among Mountain West presidents to postpone fall sports.
It doesn’t sound like the Mountain West is going to budge. The league spokesman reiterated that any decision to reconsider playing football this fall would have to be made by the Mountain West Board of Directors, which is made up of university presidents. Presidents and chancellors in every conference, not commissioners or athletic directors, are the ones who hold the decision-making power, which is why Trump’s discussion with the Big Ten commissioner may not do anything other than make a lot of noise.
America has more than 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. As of Tuesday, Wyoming has 3,282 confirmed cases and 525 active cases.
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.
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