Football players from multiple Pac-12 schools are threatening to opt out of the 2020 season if the league doesn’t offer various protections and benefits.
In a text message obtained by ESPN, the players are in negotiations with the league regarding concerns about racial injustice, their safety during the coronavirus pandemic, and securing fair compensation. If their demands are not met, they plan to sit out during preseason camps and games this fall.
According to the report, the movement involves potentially hundreds of players from Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA, among other schools, with the group set to make a public “statement of unity” and a list of their demands in the coming days.
The Athletic published a screen shot of the “Pac-12 Football Unity” statement, which includes the following “protections and benefits” in their demands:
- Ensure safe play during COVID-19
- Fight racial injustice
- Secure economic rights & fair compensation
- Protect all sports
- Obtain long term health insurance
In the Pac-12’s statement to ESPN, the league said it has not yet heard rom the group.
“Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics,” the statement read. “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.”
On Friday, the Pac-12 announced a 10-game, conference-only fall schedule, with games set to begin on Sept. 26. Teams will play five home and five road games, with the Pac-12 championship set for mid-December.