Eight University of Nebraska football players are suing the Big Ten over the conference’s decision not to have a season this fall.
“This is a case in which a powerful collegiate athletic conference contends that its student athletes have no rights,” the lawsuit says. “Even though its decision significantly and directly affects the rights and opportunities of student athletes at its member institutions, the Big Ten has rejected calls for transparency and refuses to provide documents supporting its claim that a vote was taken or that a proper process was followed.”
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said on Aug. 19 that the “vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited.”
But the lawsuit claims that a vote didn’t actually take place, citing comments by Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley Jr. and University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel.
Michigan Live reported last week that Stanley told reporters the conference was united in its decision, but it was “more of a consensus than a vote.”
The Star Tribune reported Gabel also said there wasn’t a vote last week.
“We didn’t vote, per se. It’s a deliberative process where we came to a decision together, but I absolutely support the decision that we came to,” Gabel reportedly said.
The players – Garrett Snodgrass, Garrett Nelson, Ethan Piper, Noa Pola Gates, Alante Brown, Brant Banks, Brig Banks and Jackson Hannah – are asking for no more than $75,000 in damages and for the season to be restored.
The Big Ten responded Thursday that conference leaders did hold a vote and made the decision based off expert medical advice.
“We share the disappointment that some student-athletes and their families are feeling,” the conference said in a statement obtained by ESPN. “However, this lawsuit has no merit and we will defend the decision to protect all student-athletes as we navigate through this global pandemic. We are actively considering options to get back to competition and look forward to doing so when it is safe to play.”
The Big Ten originally issued a revised football schedule on Aug. 5 that included 10 games. Six days after that, on Aug. 11, the conference announced it was cancelling or postponing the entire season.
The Pac-12 was the only other Power 5 conference to cancel its football season this fall. The other three – the SEC, ACC and Big 12 – are all moving forward with modified seasons.