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While 'COVID-19 is still a real threat,' Gov. Whitmer says she'll support Big Ten's decision

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Despite multiple college campuses in Michigan coping with significant COVID-19 outbreaks, including at Michigan State, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday she supports the Big Ten's decision to move forward with a fall football season.

Whitmer was accused by President Donald Trump earlier this month of holding up the return of Big Ten football, but she said then and now that it was never her decision to make.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

"I think every one of us is interested in football, every one of us is tired of COVID-19. I am, too. This has been a tough time, there's no question," Whitmer said Wednesday at her daily briefing. "And I want to resume activities that I would ordinarily be doing in the fall, like going to a football game."

Whitmer added, though, that "COVID-19 is still a real threat," but that the Big Ten relied on many experts in reaching its decision Wednesday.

More: President Trump spikes the ball after Big Ten announcement: 'Great honor to have helped'

The Big Ten originally postponed fall sports on Aug. 11, and Whitmer said she supported that decision, too.

"I know the Big Ten has been studying the issue, I know that they've got some of the best experts on their campuses, I know the advancements that have been made in terms of testing have given them some greater confidence that they can engage in a truncated season, safely," Whitmer said. "And so I support the decision that they've made. That's not my decision to make, it is theirs, and they will move forward."

The Big Ten will be played with no fans, though family members will allowed in attendance.

Whitmer, a Michigan State grad and fan who once wanted to be a sportscaster, said she was talking Tuesday night with a group of Midwest governors about fans and gatherings. The Lions are playing without fans, and high school football in Michigan starts this week with limited fan gatherings.

"We're all trying to do what we can to engage in some normalcy and keep people safe, and there's not a perfect way to do this," Whitmer said. "But we continue the watch the virus' prevalence in Michigan, we continue to determine if there are additional things that we can do safely.

"But if we want to preserve that as an option, we've gotta be serious about masking up."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984