USA Today columnist Christine Brennan on Wednesday declared the Big Ten’s decision to play football amid the coronavirus pandemic is the “darkest day” in the conference’s history, apparently overlooking two of the biggest sexual abuse scandals in American history.
Just weeks after announcing the postponement of all fall semester sports because of coronavirus, the Big Ten Conference and its Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously Tuesday to resume the football season beginning on Oct. 23.
The emergence of daily rapid-response COVID-19 testing — not available when university presidents and chancellors decided to pull the plug on the season — helped trigger a re-vote.
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The USA Today celebrated the news with a column headlined, “Opinion: Big Ten’s decision to play football signals darkest day in conference’s sports history.”
Brennan wrote that the conference was “doing the right thing looking out for its student-athletes” by scrapping the football season.
“Then came Wednesday, the darkest day in Big Ten sports history, the day the vaunted conference caved. It choked. It got scared,” Brennan wrote.
The USA Today columnist may have overlooked a couple of major scandals were arguably darker days for the conference. For instance, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing children. Penn State is in the Big Ten conference.
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Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 of 45 counts of child sex abuse over several years. Eight young men testified that Sandusky, who founded a charity for at-risk youth, subjected them to a range of abuse, from grooming to violent attacks.
Michigan State is also a member of the Big Ten and the school where former Olympic and university doctor Larry Nassar preyed on students for years. Nassar’s accusers, which included U.S. Olympic gymnasts Mckayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, said he would use his ungloved hands to touch them inappropriately while they were on a table seeking help for various injuries.
Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison for decades of molestation of young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.
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“I don’t really want to go too far down this path, but suffice it to say that just in this past decade, there were literally two Big Ten schools who were running what can only be described as organized sexual assault rings. So that might be a little worse,” Barstool Sports blogger Big Tennessee wrote about the column.
Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj, Louis Casiano and Lucia Suarez contributed to this report.