Trump administration offered Big Ten COVID-19 tests in effort to restart football: report

Trump administration offered Big Ten COVID-19 tests in effort to restart football: report
© Getty Images

The Trump administration offered to provide the Big Ten conference with enough COVID-19 tests to jump-start the delayed college football season, according to an ABC News report.

The Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday that it would resume football starting on Oct. 23 after it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Players and staff will be tested daily for COVID-19, and any athletes who test positive must remain out of competition for 21 days. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE hailed the decision and said it was a “great honor” to have helped, though it was unclear what role, if any, he played in the conference's reversal.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump spoke with the conference’s commissioner, Kevin Warren, on Sept. 1 and acknowledged this week that he was putting “a lot of pressure on” for the football season to return.

“Frankly, because there was no reason for it not to come back," Trump said on Wednesday.

After the call with Warren, Trump directed White House staff to provide any federal resources the conference needed, a senior administration official told ABC News.

The ability to secure enough COVID-19 tests was “key,” the official said.

"Probably for political reasons, it was easy for the Big Ten to convince their presidents to vote for it, if it wasn't going to be provided by this White House," the official added.

Ultimately, the Big Ten sourced the tests from a private company instead, the network noted.

Trump's interest in the Big Ten was spurred by calls from players and their parents for the season to resume, the senior administration official told ABC News. 

Decisions to resume collegiate sports have been highly politicized in recent weeks.

The president and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly chastised states and universities for not allowing in-person learning and football to commence.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, meanwhile, blamed Trump for the absence of football in a campaign ad last month.

Trump's fixation on the conference reflects the upcoming election. Schools in battleground states Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio all compete in the Big Ten. 

The president has not vocally pushed for the Pac-12 Conference, which hosts schools on the West Coast like California and Washington, to resume their football season.

The Hill has requested comment from the White House on the ABC News report.

— This report was updated at 7:53 a.m.