A group of Pac-12 athletes united to negotiate with the conference and league before fall sports begin. They have specific demands for the upcoming season in attempts to promote “fair treatment for college athletes.”
The group introduced themselves and announced their goals in a news release and an article published in the Players Tribune on Sunday. They are demanding more detailed COVID-19 safety protocols, increased testing, action to promote racial equality, and name, image, and likeness rights.
The press release is signed “Players of the Pac-12”. Signatures include the names of thirteen players representing ten out of the twelve schools in the conference. The note claims it is on behalf of hundreds of Pac-12 athletes.
The message claims it is essentially unjust to ask college athletes to risk their health without enforced safety standards or honest lines of communication. They highlighted how not being transparent about coronavirus cases within their respective teams could put them, their families, and their community at risk.
Ultimately, they threaten to opt-out of Pac-12 fall camp and games unless the league and conference meet their demands. They are asking for the conference to protect scholarship athletes and walk-ons by agreeing to their demands in writing.
The Pac-12 promptly responded and said they support their student-athletes using their platforms. They reassured the public that they have had clear communication with their athletes and have been directed by medical experts with the well-being of their Pac-12 community at top priority.
Is Pac-12 underestimating how many athletes will follow through with the boycott?
It is still unknown how many players would participate in a potential boycott or how many academic institutions would be affected by the circumstances.
Dallas Hobbs, a Washington State offensive lineman, said he hopes to see Pac-12 at its best in all aspects. He believes they currently lack enforced health standards that will put them and others at risk.
One of the Pac-12 group’s requests is to void COVID-19 agreements, many of which have been given to players by schools. Their signature would waive liability. The group has requested for a third party that is player-approved to enforce COVID-19 standards.
The players are also calling for commissioner Larry Scott and other administrators to take pay cuts to preserve existing programs.
According to reports, Scott has elected to take a 12% cut in his base salary for 2021. In 2018, his base salary was $2.95 million, according to recently released tax records. His total pay is reported to be over $5.4 million.
Other Pac-12 schools have announced that their administrators and highly compensated coaches are taking pay cuts to aid with the nationwide budget crisis.
Requesting Action and Attention Toward Social Justice Issues
Social justice is another topic addressed in the group’s message. They are demanding two percent of conference revenue to go toward financial aid for low-income Black student-athletes and other community development programs.
Their press release stated that the lack of care for players’ health and safety is at the heart of the systemic racial injustices imposed by NCAA sports. He claims these disparities in regard allow for the exploitation of Black athletes physically, academically, and financially.
The message highlights how the majority of sports rosters that bring in revenue are made up of black athletes. With that being said, they also have the lowest graduation rates and are “denied basic economic rights and freedoms.”
The Pac-12 ensured athletes who choose to opt-out for health or safety reasons that their scholarships will be protected.