- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met with Florida State University’s players and coaches Tuesday to offer his support for holding college football games amid the COVID-19 crisis, as Big Ten schools threatened to cause a domino effect by postponing their season.

DeSantis, a Republican, echoed President Trump in saying young athletes worked too hard to see their seasons scrapped.

“You guys have earned the opportunity to continue to compete,” Mr. DeSantis said at the campus in Tallahassee.

DeSantis said he’s confident that FSU will provide a safe environment and that his support extends to all sports, not just football.

Trump told a conservative radio program Tuesday that college athletes can cope with the virus.

“They’re in very good health. And I think you should play football,” he told host Hugh Hewitt. “They want to play football.”

As it stands, FSU football is expected to play out its season as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Still, the Big Ten’s decision is spilling into the political arena, with the White House, Republican members of Congress and governors throwing their support behind players who say their programs offer a better environment than outside of football.

“I don’t know where we’d be safer,” defensive end Joshua Kaindoh said.

Back home, he said, “you have no control of what they’re doing,” particularly among peers 18 to 22 who’ve struggled to adhere to social distancing rules.

Kaindoh and wide receiver Keyshawn Helton said they both put in a lot of work to prepare for the 2020 season after injuries spoiled last year.

“To have a season taken away from me, another year of not playing football, would just be a disappointment,” Helton said.

FSU President John Thrasher said testing for the campus will be available because the college set up its own lab.

“For athletes, I think it will be very important,” Thrasher said, noting there are contact-tracing protocols in place, too.

FSU coach Mike Norvell praised his athletes for observing protocols and making sacrifices to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He said two of his players did opt out of the season, however.

“I told them I absolutely respect their decision,” Norvell said.

He said they will retain their scholarships and eligibility for next year, while continuing their educations.

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