Football players from throughout the Pac-12 say they will boycott the 2020 season if the conference doesn't improve COVID-19 protections, address racial injustice, redistribute a portion of conference revenue to athletes, offer six-year athletic scholarships with the ability to transfer and play right away and extend medical coverage to six years after college.
A group calling itself Players of the Pac-12 posted a letter Sunday through The Player's Tribune detailing its concerns and demands. The group includes Arizona defensive back Malik Hausman, wide receiver Drew Dixon and safety Jaxen Turner, Washington quarterback Jaden Sheffey, Cal wide receiver Trevon Clark and Oregon's Bennett Williams, Thomas Graham and Penei Sewell, among others. Players of the Pac-12 also includes athletes from other sports, including Cal runner Andrew Cooper.
"Due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns, we will opt out of Pac-12 fall camp and game participation unless the following demands are guaranteed in writing by our conference to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons," the letter said. "In forming alliances with college athletes from other conferences to unite with us for change, #WeAreUnited."
In the letter, the players explained their reasoning for the union-style push to ensure their safety and voices are a top priority for the conference. Ending each sentence with "#WeAreUnited," players expressed concerns that the college football season and other fall sports will proceed despite friction between athletes and the schools' athletic departments.
Players say they're afraid of losing their scholarships if they decide not to participate in the fall sports season due to COVID-19 pandemic, despite the Pac-12 saying that it plans to honor the scholarships of anyone who opts out. UA backup quarterback Kevin Doyle said Saturday that he will sit out the upcoming football season because of the virus. His decision is not related to the proposed boycott.
"Because any player who does not feel comfortable playing this season should be free to opt out without losing their scholarship or any eligibility, #WeAreUnited," the letter said.
The players are also requesting player-approved pandemic protocols and "adequate COVID testing" through a third-party organization.
On Instagram, Hausman expressed his displeasure with what he said to be nonuniform COVID-19 testing around the Pac-12.
"I want to say that my school has been doing a great job of trying to get us to return to campus and slowly returning us on to the football. But I cannot say that for the rest of the Pac-12," Hausman said. "It's not fair to us at Arizona that we get tested weekly but at other schools, guys aren't even getting tested.
"This is wrong and unfair to schools that are testing the right way."
Since COVID-19 has personally affected the families of student-athletes in the Pac-12, the players are also requesting the conference to "distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports" off name, image and likeness.
"Because immoral rules would punish us for receiving basic necessities or compensation for the use of our names, images and likenesses, while many of us and our families are suffering economically from the COVID-19 fallout, #WeAreUnited," the letter said.
Hausman added, "The NCAA still trying to have a season shows you that they really only care about themselves and only see us as products of their business."
The letter also demands the league to do more to fight social injustice and systemic racism.
"Because unjust rules prevent 98% of college football and basketball players who won’t go pro from capitalizing economically on what would otherwise be the most valuable years of our lives, including many Black players from low-income homes, #WeAreUnited," the letter said.
Here is the full list of demands presented by Players of the Pac-12:
Health & Safety Protections
- Allow option not to play during the pandemic without losing athletics eligibility or spot on our team’s roster.
- Prohibit/void COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.
Mandatory Safety Standards, Including COVID-19 Measures
- Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19, as well as serious injury, abuse and death.
Protect All Sports
Preserve All Existing Sports by Eliminating Excessive Expenditures
- Larry Scott, administrators, and coaches to voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay.
- End performance/academic bonuses.
- End lavish facility expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports.*
*As an example, Stanford University should reinstate all sports discontinued by tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment.
End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society
- Form a permanent civic-engagement task force made up of our leaders, experts of our choice, and university and conference administrators to address outstanding issues such as racial injustice in college sports and in society.
- In partnership with the Pac-12, 2% of conference revenue would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.
- Form annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit with guaranteed representation of at least three athletes of our choice from every school.
Economic Freedom and Equity
Guaranteed Medical Expense Coverage
- Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.
Name, Image, and Likeness Rights & Representation
- The freedom to secure representation, receive basic necessities from any third party, and earn money for use of our name, image, and likeness rights.
Fair Market Pay, Rights, & Freedoms
- Distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.
- Six-year athletic scholarships to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion.
- Elimination of all policies and practices restricting or deterring our freedom of speech, our ability to fully participate in charitable work, and our freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation.
- Ability of players of all sports to transfer one time without punishment, and additionally in cases of abuse or serious negligence.
- Ability to complete eligibility after participating in a pro draft if player goes undrafted and foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.
- Due process rights
Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or email@example.com. On Twitter @justinesports
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