COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– Ohio State players, coaches and parents have taken to social media to demand Big Ten and college football leaders permit a football season to move forward. However, University Presidents appear on the verge of pulling the plug on a season altogether.
NBC4 has learned OSU players practiced, as scheduled, Monday morning and left the Woody Hayes Center around 11 a.m. Practices are still scheduled for Tuesday. The Big Ten, as noted by a league spokesman, has not formally voted on whether to move forward with football. An OSU spokesperson says the league Presidents may be meeting Monday evening, but it’s unclear if that meeting would specifically determine the league’s football plan. Earlier Monday, the Lansing State Journal reported league Presidents will convene at 6 p.m. to discuss football’s future.
Tuesday afternoon, President Trump, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and several other prominent lawmakers issued statements of support via social media for college football players and coaches fighting to play their seasons.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman also issued a statement, urging the schools to make the best decisions for their students.
“Canceling the football season and all fall sports would be very disappointing for the fans, and I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Portman said. “These are difficult decisions and I hope that the college presidents make the best decision for their players, students, and staff in accordance with guidance from health experts.”
At issue for schools are the unknown long-term health effects of COVID-19. Players have not been asked to sign legal waivers, and it’s unclear whether school leaders would entertain making football participants absolve schools of legal responsibility. If the Big Ten and other power 5 conferences do not play, they stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in forfeited television revenue and in-stadium income.
Many OSU football parents have expressed anger about how college football has been managed over the past few months, allowing teams to resume training for the season yet not allowing them to move forward with games. Parents have claimed it’s unfair to allow players to think they’ll have a season when their school leadership was not committed to playing.
Former Buckeye and Green Bay Packer, Ohio native A.J. Hawk, hopes there is some resolution soon for the players’ sakes.
“I feel for the players,” Hawk said. “I feel for the players with everything going on, obviously they’re college kids now with everything going on. It’s tough. Everyone’s looking for answers and everything changes day to day. I hope they figure it out, figure something out over the next couple months.”
Former college and NFL quarterback Brady Quinn remains optimistic there will be a season this fall despite the COVID-19 risks.
“I don’t think this risk changes moving into the spring,” he said Monday from his annual golf charity event in Dublin. “In fact, I think it brings greater risks. Making these young men play two seasons in one year? Spring and fall? That doesn’t sound safe. A lot of these guys might be going to the NFL, too, and if these guys want to go to the NFL, why would they put themselves at risk to play in the spring? So there’s a lot of hurdles moving into the spring and I don’t think everyone’s really taken that into account.”
Also to be determined is whether moving football to the spring is a viable option. The Mid-American Conference, which canceled their season Saturday, has expressed interest in trying to play in the Spring. Leaders of the Pac-12, Big 12, SEC and ACC are all expected to meet early this week to discuss similar concerns about playing football.