Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour became the second Big Ten administrator to question whether a formal vote was taken to cancel the fall 2020 college football season with hopes of moving it to the spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s unclear whether there was ever a vote or not,” Barbour said Monday during a Zoom call.
Last week, Minnesota president Joan Gabel offered a similar sentiment.
“We didn’t vote, per se. It’s a deliberative process where we came to a decision together,” she said. “But I absolutely support the decision that we came to. Safety first. Absolutely, safety first.”
The Big Ten had previously finalized a conference-only schedule on Aug. 5. Six days later, it made the decision to postpone play until at least spring 2021.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has come under increasing criticism for his leadership on the matter. Parents representing half of the Big Ten schools are calling on the conference to reverse its decision. At least some of those parents have asked for an in-person meeting with Warren in hopes of receiving a more detailed explanation.
Some players have spoken out to the point Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started a MoveOn.org online petition with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. As of Monday afternoon, the petition had 250,000 signatures.
Warren had a heavy influence on the decision, Big Ten sources told CBS Sports. In the past, the league has typically voted as a body on matters this important. A league spokesman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Radio host Dan Patrick said last week that the Big Ten presidents voted 12-2 on Aug. 10 to move football to the spring a day before the conference made its announcement. Iowa and Nebraska voted against, Patrick said. However, league sources told CBS Sports no formal vote was taken that day.
News accounts from last week all refer to a “vote” being taken by Big Ten presidents on Aug. 11 ahead of the conference’s announcement. Warren, when pressed during an interview on Big Ten Network, said the league was not unanimous in its decision.
There has been much speculation, but it has never been substantiated whether a vote was taken nor the count of the presumed vote.
“I will make myself much clearer on the statement,” Barbour said. “It is unclear to me whether or not there was a vote. Nobody has ever told me there was. I just don’t know whether their actually was by the chancellors and presidents.”
It was later revealed that at least Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State had problems with the outcome. Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost said his program would look at all “options” to play in fall 2020. Ohio State AD Gene Smith said he wanted the league to wait before making a decision. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made it clear he was against the decision in a release from the Wolverines.
“Our schools, we don’t always agree, but people understand … that we will be together in the Big Ten,” Warren said at the time of the decision.
Barbour said she would be in favor of a face-to-face meeting between parents of Big Ten athletes and Warren.
“I certainly will always be in favor of our student-athletes and their families having as much information … [as possible],” she said.
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