President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he spoke with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren about the status of the 2020 fall football season and whether the conference can restart this fall instead of waiting until spring. The conversation was said to be productive, according to Trump on Twitter and a Big Ten statement.
"Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football," he wrote. "Would be good (great!) for everyone - Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!"
The Big Ten on Tuesday confirmed that Trump and Warren spoke on Monday after a representative from the White House made first contact with the conference.
"The Big Ten Conference and its Return to Competition Task Force ... are exhausting every resource to help student-athletes get back to playing the sports they love, at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible," the league said.
It is unknown what exactly Trump spoke with Warren about or why it was productive for the Big Ten.
Ohio State beat writer Austin Ward reports the parties discussed the availability of COVID-19 testing. The White House recently purchased 150 million saliva-based rapid tests from Abbott Laboratories for a national stockpile. Those could assist in providing adequate testing for the Big Ten. However, there is no indication that testing was among the Big Ten's primary concerns about staging a fall season.
In fact, the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Conference USA have all announced that they will be testing players three times per week this season without any known involvement of the White House or another government entity.
With an election looming for Trump in November, helping the football-crazed Big Ten -- which includes members from several election "swing states" such as Michigan, Minnesota and WIsconsin -- get the sport cranked back up would certainly please football fans who have become increasingly frustrated with how the Big Ten bungled this process.
The Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC have also postponed their fall 2020 seasons to spring 2021. There has not been talk about any of those conferences reversing course.
The Big Ten announced its move on Aug. 11. Turmoil ensued following that announcement that included player-led protests on social media with the hashtag #LetUsPlay, parent-led protests at the Big Ten office in suburban Chicago and the news that several Nebraska players filed a lawsuit against the conference in an attempt to play this fall.
While the Big Ten has discussed moving the start date of the season to around Thanksgiving in an attempt to give players time to participate in the NFL Draft process, it is believed that most of its plans are still focused around playing in the spring.