State politicians sign letter to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren to restart sports


Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren speaks following the cancellation of the men's basketball tournament due to concerns over the coronavirus March 12 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Legislators from six states sent a letter to Warren on Tuesday asking the Big Ten to reconsider its decision to postpone fall sports. Tribune News Service

On Tuesday, 10 state legislators in six Big Ten states sent a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren asking the conference to reconsider its decision last month to postpone fall sports due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The letter, authored by Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, was signed by nine other state lawmakers, from Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The only signatory to attend a Big Ten university is Michigan State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, who received a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

In the letter, Chatfield says the conference’s decision to cancel football places the Big Ten and all its members at a disadvantage as other conferences, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and South Eastern Conference, all begin play this week. 

“These athletes are losing a vital part of student life and are becoming less marketable to future employers with each passing week,” Chatfield wrote. “Additionally, our local universities stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars that support vital student scholarships.”

Chatfield also mentions that several Big Ten players, parents and coaches encouraged state leaders to convey their support for a fall football season.

The letter comes one week after President Donald Trump tweeted that he had a “very productive meeting” with Warren about playing a fall football season. It also comes just days after Big 12 schools Texas Christian University and Oklahoma State University canceled their opening weekend games.

"The Big Ten's current direction is the wrong choice for the conference, for our area universities, and — worst of all — for thousands of our local students," Chatfield said in a statement. "The Big Ten should reverse course as soon as possible and do everything possible to help their students restart extracurricular activities safely."

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