For the first time this fall, fans gathered at Ohio Stadium to support the Buckeyes but instead of cheering for them on the field, they came with messages in support of playing out a football season.
Ohio State parents rallied for the second time this month to protest the Big Ten’s lack of transparency and decision to postpone the fall sports season. The Football Parents at Ohio State led the protest held outside Ohio Stadium, calling for answers, transparency and a return of football.
Amanda Babb, president of FPAOS, emphasized the messages spoken by the parents at the protest.
“We’re really out here to fight for these players, fight for you as Buckeye fans, fight for us as parents, and we want transparency,” Babb said.
Randy Wade, father of Ohio State junior cornerback Shaun Wade, emphasized the idea of not taking the “easy way out” during his speech. Referencing the fact that he didn’t have to be here because his son potentially will go in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, Wade said that he wanted to support Buckeye nation.
“These Buckeye fans are asking the presidents, the commissioner, the Big Ten, Kevin Warren and everybody who gets paid six figures to make sure these kids can play safe and have a chance for a national championship,” Wade said.
The Big Ten released a 10-game schedule for fall football Aug. 5. Less than a week later, however, the conference announced the decision to postpone all fall sports Aug. 11.
Babb, who referenced the quick turnaround from a schedule release to the season’s postponement, said the questions surrounding what changed during the week leading up to the postponement still remain.
“We just want that transparency,” Babb said. “What happened from Aug. 5 to Aug. 11? We think that the commissioner and the presidents of the universities owe that to us as parents. They owe that to you as fans. They owe it to the players.”
Gee Scott Sr., father of freshman wide receiver Gee Scott Jr., voiced his displeasure with the Big Ten’s quick decision to cancel the season just six days after the football schedule was released.
“They kept working through it like we’ve all seen and then the schedule came out and there was something about that schedule when it came out, it was almost like here’s your reward for doing the right thing,” Scott Sr. said. “And then four days later, they yanked it. They yanked that away. Not only did you yank it away, you didn’t tell us why.”
Monica Johnson, mother of freshman offensive tackle Paris Johnson, called out the Big Ten’s lack of commitment to its student-athletes.
“Signing day, the day that Paris committed, not only to Ohio State but he committed to the Big Ten conference,” Johnson said. “Where’s the commitment from the Big Ten to our players?”
The gathering’s sentiment was not only shared by parents of football players.
Donovan Lonsway, father of redshirt sophomore pitcher Seth Lonsway, shared a message of empathy as the baseball season was canceled just three weeks into the season.
“We feel your pain,” Lonsway said. “I heard my son’s voice when they canceled the season, a 21-year old man and he got very, very emotional on the phone.”
Corey Teague, redshirt sophomore running back Master Teague’s father, emphasized that he could not sit around and do nothing.
“I guess in my life, I like to think about what is true and what is honest, and when I look at this process and I think about the ways it went down and leadership and stuff like that, you can’t just sit back and swallow that. That’s hard to swallow,” Teague said.
FPAOS’ next steps involve trying to meet with University President-elect Kristina M. Johnson with the intention of gathering more information on the season’s cancelation and the process that the Big Ten operated with in regard to the decision.
Teague said that the group is looking to ask Johnson if there was a vote, how many people voted and what criteria did the conference and university presidents use when making the decision to cancel.
“I know she supports football and just let her know that we support her too. Just stuff like that, so have questions and have dialogue,” Teague said.