Leave it to a hot mic to be the source for news of the Big Ten’s return to football.
Ted Carter, the president of the University of Nebraskas, was caught in a news conference Tuesday morning on an open microphone by Lincoln TV station KETV and said the conference plans to announce that football will resume later that evening.
We were getting ready to announce Huskers and Big Ten football tonight, Carter told Bob Hinson, the director of the National Strategic Research Institute, in a masked conversation captured on camera and audio.
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A message to a Big Ten football spokesman for comment and clarity was not immediately answered. When asked about the hot-mic comments following Tuesday’s press conference, Carter said they were “a little bit taken out of context.”
Carter then said the conference remains “cautiously optimistic”, football will return.
The short quote in Lincoln came when a Senate subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington held a hearing on the name, image and likeness of the NCAA, including Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Karen Dennis, the Ohio State track coach.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) asked Blank why the Big Ten decided to delay football and all fall sports on August 11.
There were several main reasons for this, Blank responded. One was that we weren’t sure we could do the level of testing and contract tracking we needed to keep athletes safe. Second, there was growing evidence about heart-related myocarditis, and that evidence was uncertain and it was not clear what it meant. And we wanted to know more.
[ Big Ten’s myocarditis debate spills into Michigan Medicine, creates hot debate ]
There were a few more minor reasons. But until we have an answer to that, we will postpone our season. Once we have the answers to that and some of those issues and things we have ways to deal with them effectively, we’ll try to schedule a postponed season.
Kaine went on by asking Blank if reports of the Big Ten reviving the fall football season were accurate.
I’m not going to talk about that. You’ll have to let the Big Ten make that announcement when and if such a decision is made, she said. When such a decision occurs, your first question should be, “What has changed?” And hopefully we have answers to exactly the issues I just raised.
The Big Ten, in lawsuits in Nebraska, after being sued by eight Cornhuskers footballers, revealed that the original vote was 11-3 for pushing football and other fall sports into the spring of 2021. Those who opposed that decision were Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa, according to reports.
Kaine asked Blank if a unanimous vote would be needed to move the season back to fall. Big Ten bylaws require a 60% vote, or nine members who agree, to proceed without full agreement.
I can’t say what the vote will be like, Blank said. Decisions within the Big Ten are largely majority-based decisions. But I’ll be honest, we almost always decide everything by consensus. We very rarely take votes.
Bringing back football by the Big Ten would mean another change in a chaotic low season.
First came the July 9 decision to cut non-conference games out of the concern for the coronavirus, which was followed by almost all other major conferences. Then on Aug. 11, the Big Ten became the first Power Five league to announce it wouldn’t be playing football this fall due to uncertainty with COVID-19 and health and safety protocols. The Pac-12 followed a day later, but the other three divisions, the Southeastern Conference, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference, have all moved forward.
Two of those conferences have already played games, and the SEC will kick off Sept. 26.
That led to more than a month of politicians, including President Donald Trump, aiming for the leadership of the Big Ten for his decision, despite the NCAA having canceled all fall sports championships except the Football Bowl Subdivision, which it has no control over. and four of the 10 FBS and Football Championship Subdivision conferences that choose not to play. That group includes the Mid-American Conference, which overlaps Big Ten territory.
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