Alvarez says President Trump helped make tests available for Big Ten return, unsure of contribution beyond that

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MADISON, Wis. — Responding to an inquiry Wednesday about how much of President Donald Trump’s claim that he helped bring Big Ten football back, the Badgers athletic director said he believes the president helped, though he wasn’t sure of the extent.

Badgers Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said he believes Trump had some involvement in assisting with coronavirus testing needs.

Shortly after the official Big Ten announcement Wednesday that the football season would take place starting in October, Trump tweeted he took part in the return.

“Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives,” Trump tweeted. “Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!”

During a news conference Wednesday, Alvarez said he wasn’t sure of Trump’s contribution beyond testing.

“I think he talked to the commissioner and I think one of the things he did was make tests, saliva tests, available and show how returning to football in the Big Ten was important to him,” Alvarez said. “So, how much of a factor he was? I think he drew attention to Big Ten football and had a solution. How much that had to do with us being back on the field, I don’t know that answer.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison intends to use antigen tests on its players and staff, with the conference developing a uniform daily testing process. A UW Health doctor explained the antigen tests identify a protein COVID-19 produces and offer results as quickly as five to 15 minutes. However, the tests aren’t as accurate as polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, which seek out genetic material.