Indiana was going to kick off one of its more promising football seasons in program history this Friday.
Of course the 2020 Big Ten campaign has been postponed, and now we know how the league’s leadership, including IU President Michael McRobbie, voted on the decision to hit pause.
While Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren has been a target of angry players, coaches, administrators and fans, it is now clear that he did not unilaterally make the unpopular decision.
The Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 to postpone the fall football season, the conference confirmed Monday in a response to a lawsuit brought by eight Nebraska players.
The Big Ten did not list how each school voted, although ESPN and other outlets are reporting through sources that Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa were the three schools that voted against postponement.
Northwestern president Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten’s council of presidents/chancellors, confirmed via a sworn affidavit the 11-3 vote. Schapiro stated that the vote was made “for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes.”
The brief reiterates Schapiro’s statement along with public comments from Warren since the decision was made. Specifically, the brief states that the decision to postpone was based on:
“ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the health and safety of the thousands of staff, referees and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate athletics and the surrounding communities.”
The vote by McRobbie and his ten fellow presidents to postpone fall sports on health and safety grounds has been met with criticism.
Indiana University welcomed its more than 40,000 student body back to campus in August, and predictably, the school has already encountered problems.
After a spike in COVID-19 cases, a total of 14 greek organizations at IU have been directed to quarantine by the Monroe County Health Department.
Now with less time at football facilities, the players are now commingled with the student body to a greater extent.
The Big Ten’s decision to postpone was based at least in part on concerns about a potentially dangerous heart condition known as myocarditis that can occur in connection with viruses and other infections. Myocarditis can become particularly dangerous during strenuous activities.
The Nebraska players lawsuit asserted that the Big Ten based its decision to postpone primarily on a myocarditis study that has come under great scrutiny because it tested patients with a mean age of 50. The study has also since been corrected to address numerous errors.
In its brief the Big Ten pushed back on the notion that its decision was based only on the study.
“The decision was the result of COP/C members’ discussions with members of the Infectious Diseases Task Force and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee,” the brief states.
Irrespective of the relative weight given to the study, neither the league nor its presidents and chancellors have addressed why they continued to allow their athletes to train amid their myocarditis concerns.
Indiana and other programs are still conducting strength, conditioning and other football activities without pads for 12 hours a week.
McRobbie has not spoken publicly about his vote to postpone fall sports, nor has he addressed the seemingly contradictory decisions to allow the student body back on campus, and allow the athletes to continue training.
Instead, McRobbie has informed everyone that he has a foot out the door, so don’t bother.
Soon after the vote to postpone, McRobbie announced his intent to retire from his post as IU president on June 30, 2021.
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