Trump says, ‘Play College Football!’ amid reports that Big Ten is expected to cancel season due to coronavirus

Running back Elijah Collins #24 of the Michigan State Spartans rushes against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 27, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Adam Hunger | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted that the college football season this fall should not be canceled, even as heads of the colleges in the premiere Big Ten conference reportedly decided not to play any games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay,” Trump wrote in a tweet that replied to Clemson University football quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s Twitter post with that same hashtag.

Trump soon after tweeted, “Play College Football!”

Trump’s tweets came as The Detroit Free Press, citing multiple sources, reported that the presidents of the universities that comprise the Big Ten conference agreed on Sunday, by a 12-2 margin, to cancel the 2020 college football season. The vote covers other fall sports programs in that conference. A formal vote is expected later Monday, according to the newspaper.

The Big Ten is one of the oldest and most prominent college football conferences in the United States. The conference, which despite its name contains 14 universities, includes the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Penn State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota, among other schools.

The Free Press reported that the Big Ten presidents “are trying to figure out how all this fits with other conferences and they want athletic directors to handle logistics of determining if spring season is possible.”

“The situation reportedly is changing by the hour, which is why the Big Ten has not made its announcement official,” the newspaper reported.

CNBC has reached out for comment to the Big Ten.

The Big Ten’s reported decision increases the already widespread speculation that nearly all or all major conferences will cancel or postpone football this fall. reported Monday that another major conference, the Pac-12, is looking to postpone its season until next spring. The Pac-12 is composed of western U.S. schools including the University of Southern California, University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford, Oregon and Colorado.

A spokesman for the Pac-12 did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

The Mid-American Conference on Saturday became the first Football Bowl Subdivision conference to cancel its season due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The University of Connecticut last week canceled its college football season. UConn is an independent program for football and is not aligned with a conference.

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