President Donald Trump is taking some credit for the Big Ten’s decision to play football in 2020, but some of the conference’s decision-makers are denying his claim.

One of the Big Ten’s 14 school presidents told NBC News that Trump didn’t help salvage the season. If anything, Trump’s attempt to get involved might have been an impediment to the conference playing football this year, the report said.

“President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations,” a Big Ten president said. “In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative because no one wanted this to be political.”




On Wednesday morning, the Big Ten announced plans to start its football season on the weekend of Oct. 23 because of improved medical protocols. It was just 36 days ago that the conference said it would postpone all fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to play football as a result of the availability of rapid coronavirus. The vote last month was 11-3 against fall sports.

Trump has been vocal about his support for college football to be played this year. The president spoke with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren earlier this month, hoping to start the season soon. Trump called the conversation “very productive” and indicated the conference was close to getting back on the field.

White House officials held a briefing Wednesday afternoon to discuss Trump’s role in the Big Ten’s return. Officials said there have been more than 300 calls between the White House and those involved in the Big Ten, Sports Illustrated reported.

“It’s not just about the Big Ten. He’s willing to provide resources to anybody reconsidering to play football,” the White House official said. “This is not a political thing.”



The decision by individual conferences to play college football appears to be drawn along party lines. The conferences that have decided to postpone the season are dominated by schools in blue states.

Pressure from within the Big Ten might have played a bigger role than pressure from the White House. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started a petition that has garnered more than 300,000 signatures supporting a 2020 season. 

The Pac-12 is now the only Power Five conference that currently is not moving head with fall football.

Donald Trump College Football Playoff President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump sing along to the national anthem at the start of the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the LSU Tigers and the Clemson Tigers at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images