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Big Ten parents at protest want details from conference on no-play decision

Parents of Big Ten football players, upset over the process that led to the postponement of the fall season, held a protest near the conference’s Chicago-area headquarters Friday while an attorney in Nebraska demanded Commissioner Kevin Warren turn over material illustrating how the decision was made.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced Aug. 11 that health and safety concerns over the coronavirus led them to shut down football this fall. The other three major conferences, the Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Southeastern, are planning to play.

Groups of player parents from several Big Ten schools have complained that Warren was not forthcoming in explaining the process that led to the school presidents’ decision. A more detailed explanation Warren offered in an open letter this week was not to their satisfaction.

“We’ve got a voice. We want to use it,” said Jay Kallenberger, father of Iowa offensive lineman Mark Kallenberger. “Our kids may not be comfortable speaking out or the programs may say, ‘Hey, just sit back, there’s not a lot you can say right now.’ Transparency, that’s what we want.”

Randy Wade, father of Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade, organized the protest in suburban Rosemont. About two dozen parents representing Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State and Wisconsin showed up. A few carried “Let Them Play” signs and the group chanted, “Let us play!”

The protest started with a 17-second moment of silence to recognize the 170,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19.

“We do respect there’s a pandemic out here,” Wade said, waving off critics of the parents’ movement who say the moms and dads are willing to put their sons at risk so they can play football.

Wade called on Warren to set up a videoconference with parents and athletic directors to discuss in detail how the decision was reached. Kallenberger said the parents also want Warren to provide clarity on whether there was a vote of presidents and, if so, how each school voted.

Warren wrote in his letter this weekthat the presidents’ vote “was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited.”

However, Minnesota president Joan Gabel said last week, “We didn’t vote, per se. It’s a deliberative process where we came to a decision together.”

Attorney Mike Flood of Norfolk, Nebraska,in a letter sent to Warren on Friday,threatened a federal lawsuit if documents and other materials related to the decision aren’t turned over by Monday.

Flood, a former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, said he represents the parents of 11 Cornhuskers players. Flood also is owner of Flood Communications, which operates eight radio stations in the state, five of which broadcast football games as part of the Husker Sports Network.

Flood’s letter pointed out that Warren’s son is preparing to play this season in the SEC.

“It is especially troubling that you have made the decision that it is in your son’s best interest to play football this season at Mississippi State,” Flood wrote, “yet you have taken that decision out of the hands of our clients.”

Flood is asking the conference to produce documents relating to any votes taken, how each school voted, meeting minutes and all audio and video recordings and transcripts of meetings where votes were cast. He also wants copies of studies, scientific data and medical information or advice considered by the presidents.

“One of the parents, and I think she speaks for most of them, says, ‘Nobody loves their kids more than we do. Nobody wants to see them safe more than we do. But what is it that the Big Ten has that has compelled them to do this compared to the other conferences that are planning to play?’ We’d like to know,” Flood said.

25 PHOTOSThe most dominant college football programs of the decadeSee GalleryThe most dominant college football programs of the decade25. Boise State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $16.8 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 5

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 15

One thing to know: Only three FBS schools (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State) have won more games than Boise State (109) over the last decade.

Data is is for the 2009-18 seasons across FBS, FCS, Division II, and Division III. Championships were weighted by division and years since title.


24. Iowa

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $53.3 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 0

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 27

One thing to know: Iowa has won at least eight games in eight of the last 10 seasons. 

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

23. Stanford

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $31.5 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 3

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 26

One thing to know: Stanford, Wisconsin, and Boise State are the only FBS schools with 100 wins over the last decade and no appearances in the College Football Playoff or the BCS title game. 

(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

22. Northwest Missouri State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $2.6 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 0

Conference championships: 7

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 4 (Div. II)

Players in the NFL: 0

One thing to know: Northwest Missouri State has won three of the last six Division II titles. 

(Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

21. Oklahoma State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $40.1 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 1

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 15

One thing to know: Of the FBS programs in this ranking, only Stanford ($31.5 million) makes less money each year from their football team than the Cowboys.

(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

20. Florida

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $75.5 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 0

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 46

One thing to know: The Gators rank 8th in revenue generated and third in players reaching the NFL.

(Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

19. Michigan

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $86.0 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 2

Conference championships: 0

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 35

One thing to know: Michigan is third in football revenue generated over the last 10 years. 

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

18. Michigan State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $55.0 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 2

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 1

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 18

One thing to know: Only Ohio State (4) has more Big Ten championships over the last decade. 

(Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

17. Oregon

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $50.8 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 0

Conference championships: 3

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 2

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 22

One thing to know: Oregon and Alabama are the only two FBS schools to lose multiple national championship games over the last decade.

(Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

16. Mount Union

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $484,900

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 0

Conference championships: 9

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 

National championships: 3 (Div. III)

Players in the NFL: 0

One thing to know: Mount Union has reached the Division III national championship game nine times in the last 10 years.

(Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

15. Penn State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $72.6 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 2

Conference championships: 1

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 28

One thing to know: Many thought the Jerry Sandusky scandal would kill the Penn State football program. Five years later, James Franklin had the team back in the Top 10. 

(Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

14. Washington

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $58.2 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 2

Conference championships: 2

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 1

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 27

One thing to know: Washington is the only Pac-12 school to reach the College Football Playoff in the last four years. 

(Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13. Wisconsin

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $54.0 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 2

Conference championships: 2

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 27

One thing to know: Wisconsin and Stanford are tied for the most wins (102) over the last decade without a single appearance in the College Football Playoff or BCS title game. 

(Photo by Mark Vancleave/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

12. Notre Dame

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $80.7 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 0

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 2

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 32

One thing to know: Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP Top 5 at least once in five of the last ten seasons. 

(Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

11. Louisiana State University

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $77.5 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 1

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 1

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 44

One thing to know: Only three schools (Alabama, Ohio State, Florida) produce more NFL players. 

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

10. Texas

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $113.6 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 1

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 1

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 25

One thing to know: Texas hasn’t been terribly dominant on the field recently, but no program is more dominant off the field. The football team has brought in $1.14 billion in revenue over the last decade, more than $200 million greater than any other school.

(Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

9. Florida State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $51.5 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 2

Conference championships: 3

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 2

National championships: 1

Players in the NFL: 36

One thing to know: Of the FBS programs in the top 15, no school makes less money with their football team.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

8. Georgia

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $83.7 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 1

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 1

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 28

One thing to know: Only three schools (Texas, Alabama, Michigan) bring in more revenue from their football team. 

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

7. Auburn

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $76.7 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 2

Conference championships: 2

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 2

National championships: 1

Players in the NFL: 32

One thing to know: Auburn is one of only four FBS schools to reach the national championship game twice in the last ten years. However, they also have seven seasons in which they lost at least five games. 

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

6. Wisconsin-Whitewater

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $383,600

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 0

Conference championships: 7

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 5 (Div. III)

Players in the NFL: 1

One thing to know: Wisconsin-Whitewater has averaged 12.6 wins per season over the last decade.

(Photo by Peter Lockley/ NCAA Photos via Getty Images

5. Oklahoma

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $73.1 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 1

Conference championships: 5.5

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 3

National championships: 0

Players in the NFL: 29

One thing to know: Boise State (109) and Oklahoma (105) are the only FBS schools to win more than 102 games over the last decade without winning a national championship.

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

4. Ohio State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $74.9 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 3

Conference championships: 4

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 2

National championships: 1

Players in the NFL: 50

One thing to know: The Buckeyes’ 50 players in the NFL are second only to Alabama (57).

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

3. North Dakota State

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $4.3 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 0

Conference championships: 8

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 0

National championships: 7 (FCS)

Players in the NFL: 4

One thing to know: North Dakota State has won seven of the last eight FCS championships. No other school has won more than six championships in the history of the FCS/I-AA. 

(Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2. Clemson

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $41.4 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 0

Conference championships: 5

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 4

National championships: 2

Players in the NFL: 32

One thing to know: Clemson has appeared in the last four College Football Playoffs and three of the last four national championship games. 

(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

1. Alabama

Avg. football revenue, last 10 years: $89.9 million

New Year’s 6 bowl appearances: 0

Conference championships: 6

BCS title game/Playoff appearances: 8

National championships: 5

Players in the NFL: 57

One thing to know: Alabama is the only school to appear in all five College Football Playoffs.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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