LANSING, Mich. — Top Republican lawmakers from across the Midwest have sent a literal message to the Big Ten conference, urging Commissioner Kevin Warren to reconsider the decision to cancel fall sports.
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering spoke with FOX 17 on Zoom, he alongside nine other lawmakers signed off on the letter Tuesday.
The B1G can play sports safely. And the B1G should play sports safely. They should reverse the decision. Here’s a letter that Midwest legislative leaders sent to Commissioner Warren today urging the reconsideration of the decision to cancel fall sports. Let’s go! #LetTheB1GPlay pic.twitter.com/Q89JaZwLQ6— Lee Chatfield (@LeeChatfield) September 8, 2020
“Everyone wants to cite data and science but how is it safe for the SEC, the ACC and the Big 12 to compete but not safe for the Big Ten to compete?” Chatfield questioned.
“Even more so, how is it safe for professional sports to occur in Michigan and Ohio and high school sports to occur in Michigan and Ohio but not college sports? and you see, because of that there's a lot of parents and student athletes, coaches, athletic directors that are frustrated by what they see as inconsistencies and what people are purporting as data and science,” Chatfield told FOX 17.
Chatfield says canceling fall sports not only affects the student-athletes but will also result in a huge financial hit for universities.
“These public universities are always talking with us to ensure that they can get taxpayer dollars to keep tuition low and provide services for these kids that attend these colleges and I will tell you this, this will be a financial hit to these public universities,” Chatfield said.
“Where are they going to go, are they going to simply raise tuition or ask the state for more dollars? The money that is generated through these games and through these batches is also used to pay for the scholarships that they offered the students, and we have to keep those promises,” Chatfield added.
“But at the heart of it this is about ensuring our student athletes are given the exact same opportunities that student athletes are given across the country. It's not right that this decision was made,” he said.
That decision to cancel college football, among other sports has faced blow back from different directions, including President Trump who on Sunday tweeted, “Big Ten football is looking really good, but may lose Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland because of those governors’ ridiculous lack of interest or political support. They will play without them?” the president questioned.
Big Ten Football is looking really good, but may lose Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland because of those Governors’ ridiculous lack of interest or political support. They will play without them?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2020
Chatfield says ideally Michigan and Michigan State would play if the Big Ten reversed course, but either way he doesn’t want them holding the conference back.
“I'd love to see Michigan go forward if the Big Ten decides to reverse its decision, but should Michigan not, we should not be holding other states back,” Chatfield explained.
“We're hopeful we'll hear from them soon, and hopefully they'll make the right decision and reconsider what they previously decided,” he added.