Big Ten football drama widens with Penn State cancellation confusion

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour didn’t question the Big Ten’s decision to cancel fall football, but she did potentially create a stir by questioning whether there was an official vote to do so.

“It is unclear to me whether or not there was a vote,” she told reporters Monday during a conference call. “No one’s ever told me there was. I just don’t know whether there actually was a vote by the chancellors and presidents.”

Last Tuesday, the Big Ten announced it was moving football to the spring due to COVID-19 concerns. The Pac-12 joined it in doing so, and even canceled all fall sports.

“The presidents and chancellors made their decision based on science, based on the information from the medical experts, and based on concerns and uncertainty in a number of different categories. I don’t see that changing,” Barbour said. “In the end, there was too much uncertainty for them to believe it could have been done safely.”

Nebraska and Iowa were the lone Big Ten schools reportedly in favor of playing the college football season in the fall. But Barbour is unsure an official vote ever took place. According to a Fox affiliate, Minnesota president Joan Gabel described the sequence of events as a “deliberative process where we came to a decision together.”

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started a petition on Sunday to reinstate the season. It has nearly 250,000 signatures. Before the announcement to cancel the fall season, a number of the league’s prominent coaches, such as Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Nebraska’s Scott Frost, Penn State’s James Franklin and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, lobbied to play in the fall. But it doesn’t seem like the conference will be changing course.

“Any one of us can disagree with the decision itself,” Barbour said. “But we can’t disagree that it was made with health and safety in mind.”