Rutgers president slams President Donald Trump over his push for Big Ten football: ‘It’s just cheap politics’

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3-min read

President Donald Trump has repeatedly inserted himself into the Big Ten conference in recent weeks, hoping to push the conference to reverse course and hold a football season this fall — something commissioner Kevin Warren canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway, however, isn’t having it.

Holloway said Thursday that he was “gobsmacked” by the criticism that the league has received for not holding a football season this fall, but he won’t change his decision on the matter based on Trump’s comments or tweets.

“I mean, it’s just cheap politics,” Holloway said, via NJ.com. “I want that person to be paying attention to matters of national security and national importance. This does not rise to that level — not for a half second.

“And even if it was a president that I was completely in love with that was doing this, I’d still think it would be cheap politics.”

Holloway was one of the 11 presidents and chancellors who voted to postpone all fall sports last month due to the pandemic.

Trump spoke with Warren about starting the season last week, and has tweeted about the issue several times. At one point, he even claimed that an immediate season restart was “on the one-yard line” — something that just wasn’t and isn’t true.

He repeated those claims again on Thursday during a campaign stop in Michigan, and somehow tried to blame Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the lack of football.

“We want a governor that’s going to let Michigan play Big Ten football this year,” Trump said, via MLive.com. “We’ve been seeing a lot of the other schools want to open up the Big Ten, at my suggestion.”

Holloway still focused on spring football

Though Trump and others want the Big Ten to resume play sometime this fall, Holloway still thinks the best move for the conference would be playing in the spring instead.

That way, he said, the conference can “learn about the science, different kinds of tests and potential vaccines.”

“I know other universities are facing unique pressures in the other direction. I get that. That’s just where I am right now,” Holloway said, via NJ.com. “We’ll hope for the best, frankly.

“No president, whether they’re pushing to start tomorrow or in January, none of us wants to risk our students. There are different levels of comfort and confidence about how we can move forward.”

He isn’t bothered by seeing other conferences like the SEC, ACC and Big 12 competing this fall, either.

“If I’m wrong because I was erring on the side of safety, I don’t have a problem with that,” Holloway said, via NJ.com. “I don’t think I’m in the wrong, though. I just don’t think it.

“And if I had to put money down, we’re going to see some radical changes within a month — no later than October. I’m really worried about what we’re heading toward, on just college campuses in general, not just sports. It’s deeply concerning.”

Rutgers helmet
Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway said he won’t let President Trump’s repeated push for football in the Big Ten impact his decision on the matter. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

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