On Saturday, it was reported the players of the PAC-12 were threatening to opt-out of playing if the league didn’t offer them protection and benefits. As expected in the report, the demands were made public as players in the PAC-12 sent out this letter titled #WeAreUnited in the Players’ Tribune Sunday morning.
In the letter, the players opened with a message that displayed their unity that outlined they stand together on the following demands, broken down into these four parts:
- Health & Safety Protections
- Protect All Sports
- End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society
- Economic Freedom and Equity
In these demands, the PAC-12 players stated that during the coronavirus pandemic, players should be protected from losing eligibility if they decided to opt-out of playing due to COVID-19 concerns (the SEC has announced athletes who elect to sit out due to COVID-19 concerns will have their scholarships honored). The players also argue COVID-19 agreements that waive liability should be prohibited – NCAA president Mark Emmert has also said he is “categorically opposed to [such waivers]. It is an inappropriate thing for schools to be doing.”
The players also demanded mandatory health and safety standards, which would be monitored by third party health officials who have been approved by the players. These officials wouldn’t be limited to COVID-19 proceedings – they would also have a hand in cases of serious injury, abuse and death of collegiate athletes.
The union thinks excessive spending should be drastically reduced to preserve all existing sports by eliminating excessive expenditures. Those expenditures include “excessive pay” to PAC-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, administrators and coaches, as well as their performance and academic bonuses. The players also stated lavish facilities are unnecessary, and those endowments funds should instead be used to preserve the sports on the brink of being cut. In early July, Stanford became the first member of the conference to announce it will be cutting 11 varsity athletic programs by the end of the 2020-21 school year. The letter cites Stanford’s 27.7 billion-dollar endowment and suggests the school tap into that before cutting these sports.
As for ending racial injustice, the players are asking for a permanent civic-engagement task force consisting of leaders, experts of the players’ choosing, and various administrators from across the conference. The letter also states 2 percent of the revenue the PAC-12 earns should be put into supporting financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives and development programs for college athletes on each campus.
An annual PAC-12 Black College Athlete Summit was also outlined. At the summit, there would be guaranteed representation of at least three athletes of the players’ choosing from each PAC-12 school.
Finally, financial freedom. The players of the PAC-12 are demanding they receive guaranteed medical expense coverage, in addition to the ability to profit off of their name, image and likeness. They outlined their fair market pay plan as well, which include:
- Distributing 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 their freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation.
- The 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 a player goes undrafted and foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.
- Due process rights.
This letter has the chance to change the face of college sports forever. These players from the PAC-12 have shown they are the ones with the power to decide whether or not there are fall sports this fall, and it will be interesting to see what will come of this letter and their demands in the following weeks.
You can read the entire letter from the Players Tribune here, along with a message of unity from the players.