Pac-12 Student Athletes Look to Opt-Out of Upcoming Season if COVID-19 and Social Justice Concerns are Not Met

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Curtis Lin

University of Utah sophomore offensive lineman Nick Ford (55) gets pumped up prior to the start of the game in an NCAA Football game vs. University of California at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday October 26, 2019. (Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor

 

A group of players from the Pac-12 released a list of demands for the conference to meet or else they will be opting-out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The movement, which is called #WeAreUnited, not only addresses the players’ concerns with the pandemic but also with social justice. 

The players released the full list of demands via The Players Tribune on Sunday, Aug. 2. The group states that if their demands are not met about the issues at hand, hundreds of players will opt-out of the upcoming season. 

“#WeAreUnited in our commitment to secure fair treatment for college athletes. 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 group said in their Players Tribune story. 

The list of demands from the players include: 

  • Allowing players to opt-out of the season without losing their scholarship or eligibility
  • Prohibiting or voiding any COVID-19 agreements that would waive liability by the team or university
  • Implementing player-approved health and safety standards to protect them from COVID-19 with the help of a third party 
  • Receiving health insurance for up to six years post-graduation for any sports-related injuries players suffer
  • Cutting commissioner Larry Scott’s paycheck, as well as the paychecks of other coaches and administrators, by 50%, as well as ending performance and academic bonuses
  • Ending “lavish” spending on facilities and using endowment funds to preserve all sports the schools have — the group references Stanford and their plan to cut 11 varsity sports, and how they should tap into their $27.7 billion endowment to keep the teams around
  • Establishing a permanent civic engagement task force, made up of leaders of the teams, to address racism at the college athletics level as well as in society
  • Redirecting 2% of conference revenue for financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives and development programs for athletes
  • Establishing a Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit that will take place annually and feature three student-athletes from every school
  • Securing third-party representation and aid for basic necessities as well as profit from their name, image and likeness
  • Distributing 50% of the conference’s annual revenue to the athletes of each sport
  • Providing six-year scholarships for student-athletes to complete undergraduate or graduate school
  • Eliminating policies restricting student athlete’s “freedom of speech,” “ability to fully participate in charitable work” and “freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation,” per the release 
  • Implementing a one-time transfer rule without losing a year of eligibility
  • Allowing athletes to go back to school and finish their eligibility if they enter the draft and are not picked up by a team within 7 days

Contact points from 10 out of the 12 schools were listed on the press release sent out on Sunday morning. 

Utah offensive lineman Nick Ford was listed as a contact point for the group, and a statement said that being a part of something like this makes him happy though disappointed that these talks even need to be taking place. 

While Ford is the lone Utah player listed as a contact point, many other Utah players have shown their support of the movement. The players include Jake Bentley, Cam Rising, Clark Phillips, Devin Lloyd, Semisi Lauaki, Fua Pututau, TJ Green, Bronson Boyd, Solomon Enis, Micah Bernard, Nephi Sewell, Mufi Hill-Hunt, Alphonso Taylor, Hunter Lotulelei, Alex Harrison, Samu Elisaia, Andrew Mata’afa, Noah Rodreguez-Trammell and Maxwell Cotton. 

 

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