President Trump couldn’t help but pat himself on the back shortly after the Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday that it approved a reversal of its recent decision to postpone the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to resume the football season beginning the weekend of October 23-24, conveniently, for President Trump, just days before the 2020 presidential election.
Trump praised the Big Ten’s announcement in a tweet. The change came after he urged the athletic conference to resume games, but the pressure didn’t come without a political twist. Trump seems to have specifically targeted this athletic conference as it is comprised of many Rust Belt states that were key to Trump’s 2016 win. Trump reportedly pushed for the season to resume ahead of the presidential election in November — and even offered federal aid to do so.
Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2020
Earlier this month, the President called Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren to urge the league to play and reportedly offered the federal aid. Although Warren at the time wouldn’t describe any assistance Trump offered during their call, he told the New York Times that the call lasted about 15 minutes and was “a very professional, respectful conversation.”
The Big Ten is comprised of colleges in states that include Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, among other states. The league’s announcement to no longer postpone its season comes amid other competing conferences’ decision to postpone scheduled games or lose players to COVID-19 infections after moving forward with their own fall seasons. A surge in COVID-19 cases continues to spread in college town areas such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia.
The Big Ten said that it plans to test players, coaches and staff for COVID-19 daily beginning Sept. 30. Athletes who test positive will be kept out of competitions for at least three weeks and will also undergo additional screening for cardiac conditions.
Additionally, teams in the league are required to stop practices and games for at least a week if they record COVID-19 test positivity rates greater than 5 percent.