There’s been no talk yet of hanging chads, and the issue likely won’t go to the Supreme Court, but the Big Ten’s announcement last Tuesday that it was postponing fall sports is still generating controversy and questions a week later.
The biggest question: Did a vote of Big Ten presidents and chancellors even happen before the conference pulled the plug on the season? That depends on the definition of “vote” and who you ask.
Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour, during a video news conference Monday, detailed the uncertainty, adding another layer of confusion about the Big Ten’s decision.
“It is unclear to me whether or not there was a vote,” she said. “No one’s ever told me there was. I just don’t know whether there actually was a vote by the chancellors and presidents.”
Barbour’s statements follow in line with those of University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, who on Tuesday said: “We didn’t vote, per se. It’s a deliberative process where we came to a decision together, but I absolutely support the decision that we came to. Safety first. Absolutely, safety first.”
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren sidestepped a question on whether the league’s 14 members were unanimous during an interview on the Big Ten Network last week.
“Our schools, we don’t always agree, but people understand — and I take that from a passionate standpoint — that we will be together in the Big Ten. I just think it’s important to make that very clear,” Warren said. “I would rather not have a detailed discussion about if it was unanimous or not unanimous. This is a decision that was made on a collective basis.”
Barbour’s comments are the latest in a week in which the Big Ten has taken a series of public relations hits.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost, backed by his athletic director and chancellor, criticized the league’s decision and even suggested the Cornhuskers would play a rouge schedule, a threat since canceled. Parents of players at Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State sent letters to the Big Ten, demanding the decision be reversed.
And Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started an online petition calling for the fall season to be played. In 24 hours, the petition had more than 225,000 signatures.