Group of Pac-12 players threaten to boycott season
A group of Pac-12 players from multiple schools are threatening to opt out of upcoming practices and this season’s games unless their demands for fair treatment, safety regulations and racial justice concerns are met by the conference.
The group revealed their demands in a letter published Sunday in The Players’ Tribune. They began organizing about a month ago and are using the hashtag #WeAreUnited.
The letter started off this way:
“To ensure future generations of college athletes will be treated fairly, #WeAreUnited.
Because NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes, #WeAreUnited.
In rejecting the NCAA’s claim that #BlackLivesMatter while also systematically exploiting Black athletes nationwide, #WeAreUnited.
Because we are being asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities, #WeAreUnited.
Because we must have adequate COVID testing to help protect our health, #WeAreUnited.”
The group of players include Stanford cornerback Treyjohn Butler; California offensive linemen Jake Curhan and Valentino Daltoso and cornerback Joshua Drayden; Oregon State cornerback Jaydon Grant; UCLA defensive back Elisha Guidry; Arizona cornerback Malik Hausman; Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs; Oregon safety Jevon Holland; Washington receiver Ty Jones and linebacker Joe Tryon; and Arizona State offensive lineman Cody Shear.
The players cited “Pac-12 Football Unity Demands” in the letter, beginning with health and safety protections that give players the option to choose not to play during the coronavirus pandemic without losing athletic ability or a spot on the roster.
They also requested that the Pac-12 not force players to sign COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.
As far as the racial injustice issue, the players desire a permanent civic-engagement task force to deal with such issues in college sports and society. They also request that 2 percent of Pac-12 revenue be directed to support financial aid for low-income Black students.
The group also calls for “economic freedom and equity” in terms of medical coverage and likeness rights.
Players want medical coverage, including for COVID-19 illnesses, to cover six years after their college eligibility concludes.
The group wants athletes to have the ability to earn money off their name, image and likeness rights.
The players also request that coaches, administrators and commissioner Larry Scott “drastically reduce excessive pay” and end the pattern of performance and academic bonuses being awarded.
The Pac-12 reportedly hasn’t heard directly from the group of players, which includes expected high NFL draft picks in Holland and Tryon.
“Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “We support our student-athletes using their voice and have regular communications with our student-athletes at many different levels on a range of topics. As we have clearly stated with respect to our fall competition plans, we are, and always will be, directed by medical experts, with the health, safety and well being of our student athletes, coaches and staff always the first priority. We have made it clear that any student athlete who chooses not to return to competition for health or safety reasons will have their scholarship protected.”
Hobbs told ESPN that they players would like to be on the field but there have to be solutions forthcoming.
“We were hoping by fall camp that this stuff can kind of be sorted out,” Hobbs said. “The main thing is the COVID concern isn’t something we want to be negotiated. The other stuff is definitely a lot to handle, and it’s definitely going to take time to negotiate. But we kind of want this process to just start and see the Pac-12 take leadership and enforce some of these standards and enforce some of these rules to just help us out in a way.”
–Field Level Media