During the presidential debate on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump claimed he was responsible for bringing Big Ten football back this fall amidst the pandemic.
"By the way, I brought back Big Ten football," Trump said. "It was me, and I'm very happy to do it and the people of Ohio are very proud of me."
Trump's claim came during a segment of the debate in which he was asked about how he plans to restore the economy from the losses it has suffered from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Big Ten, which originally canceled its season due to coronavirus concerns, announced earlier this month that it would begin a nine-game football season the weekend of October 24.
On Sept. 1, Trump and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren spoke over the phone to discuss the possibility of football returning. The conference has said that the president did not ultimately impact the league's decision to return to football activity this fall, however.
“President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations,” said the president of a Big Ten university who asked not to be identified, via NBC4 in Columbus. “In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative, because no one wanted this to be political.”
Tuesday was not the first time the president claimed to have made an impact on bringing the Big Ten back. On Sept. 16, the day the conference announced it would have a football season this fall, Trump tweeted "it is my great honor to have helped!"
After its initial decision not to play, Big Ten presidents also came under almost immediate pressure to conduct a truncated season from players, coaches and fans as well. The conference includes large universities in states that could prove critical to whichever candidate wins the 2020 election, including Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State, Minnesota and Iowa.