President Trump celebrated the return of the Big Ten College Football Conference as it worked to fight the coronavirus, and emphatically told the Pac-12 that it was their turn to “get started.”
“I want to congratulate Big Ten football. It’s back,” Trump said during a news conference Wednesday. Its return came after Trump publicly pressured the conference, which consists primarily of Midwestern teams, and even spoke directly with Commissioner Kevin Warren.
“I would especially like to have had to deal with them, thank Commissioner Kevin Warren for the great job he did. We’ve been working with him for a while … I called the Commissioner a few weeks ago and we really started to put a lot of pressure on, honestly because there was no reason why it did not come back. And Kevin went in and worked very hard. I want to thank the players, the coaches for working together. And they wanted it very badly. The players and the coaches, especially the parents. “
He especially thanked White House adviser Tim Pataki for doing a “good job”
BIG TEN ANNOUNCES REFUND OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON 2020, AFTER EXHIBITION ON CORONAVIRUS
In a release Wednesday, the conference said the Council of Presidents and Chancellor was unanimous in its decision to resume gambling. To prevent the spread of the virus, the conference requires student-athletes, educators and coaches to receive daily antigen testing, while students who test positive will have to undergo a comprehensive heart test and can only return after at least 21 days from their positive diagnosis.
When the Big Ten and Pac-12 bailed out in August, the other Power Five conferences threw forward along with three other major college football leagues. Games have started where the Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference started last week. The Southeastern Conference begins playing on September 26th.
“I would recommend that the Pac-12 also get underway because there is no reason why the Pac-12 should not play now,” Trump said of the West Coast conference.
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“And maybe they start at least in part. I had recommended today to Kevin and others that you might want to start with 25% of the stadium, or maybe you want to start with empty, I do not know. I think they could have fans go honestly, but they will be careful, they will be safe, and they will be safe. “
Trump continued: “They have a very good test process for the players, coaches, families, etc. And then I just want to congratulate the Big Ten. It will be good, we will love to see it. And, again, I would recommend Pac-12, you “is the only one now. Open up, open, Pac-12, get started,” he said.
Earlier this month, Pac-12 announced a test partnership that it said would help curb the spread of the virus. It added, however, that “any return to competition is subject to the necessary approvals from public health officials.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.