Pac-12 player group threatens to opt out of season, lists demands

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In a historic effort to take college athletics to the negotiating table, hundreds of Pac-12 athletes have reportedly threatened to opt out of the 2020 season if a list of demands, outlined in a recent letter from The Players’ Tribune, are not met.

“#WeAreUnited in our commitment to secure fair treatment for college athletes,” the letter reads. “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.”

Early Sunday, Pac-12 student-athletes, including multiple Cal football players, made social media posts with the hashtag #WeAreUnited accompanied by the various calls to action the player group expects.

The list of demands prioritizes combating racial injustice and implementing transparent safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as lobbies for financial benefits for current and future athletes. Eliminating excessive expenditures, achieving fair market pay and administering medical expense coverage are also key points of emphasis.

According to ESPN, neither the Pac-12 nor any athletics department within it had heard from the group prior to the release of the letter.

“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,” a statement from the Pac-12 reads. “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.”

The Pac-12 released revised scheduling information for the 2020 season Friday, with a start date of Sept. 26, and has yet to outline specific COVID-19 safety measures for the proposed season.

Contact Spencer Golanka at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @sgolanka.