Facebook Twitter

Utah has yet to release a statement on the Pac-12 football player demands

Group demanding that changes be made.

SHARE Utah has yet to release a statement on the Pac-12 football player demands
merlin_1432646.jpg

Miguel Tena, left, and Shawn Hughey work a sand and rubber mixture into a Pac-12 logo at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah officials have not released a comment or statement on the “#WeAreUnited” article posted on The Players’ Tribune website.

Under the byline “Players of the Pac-12,” a list of demands were made concerning the “fair treatment for college athletes.” It ended with a warning.

“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.”

Sports Illustrated reported Monday that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has responded to the group via a letter. “We are eager to hear more about your concerns and very happy to discuss,” Scott wrote, per Sports Illustrated. “I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised.”

Sports Illustrated also reported it had obtained a copy of the group’s email to Scott, and it was signed by 11 players, each from a different Pac-12 school. That includes Utah offensive lineman Nick Ford, while the only school not represented was Colorado, according to Sports Illustrated.

The published Pac-12 Football Unity Demands is broken into categories under a heading “to protect and benefit both scholarship and walk-on athletes.”

Health and safety protections

  • Allow option not to play during the COVID-19 pandemic without losing eligibility or a spot on the team’s roster.
  • Prohibit/void COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.
  • Player-approved health and safety standards that are enforced by a third party (also approved by the athletes) to address COVID-19, serious injury, abuse and death.

Protect all sports

  • Reduce — voluntary and drastically — excessive pay for Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, administrators and coaches.
  • Eliminate academic and performance bonuses.
  • Put an end to lavish expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports. The demands include an example of Stanford “tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment” to reinstate recently discontinued sports.

End racial injustice

  • Create a permanent civic-engagement task force comprised of leaders and experts chosen by the athletes, along with conference and university administrators, to Conference and university administrators to “address outstanding issues such as racial injustice in college sports and in society.”
  • Form a partnership with the Pac-12 where “2 percent of conference revenue would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.”
  • Establish an annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit. Guaranteed representation should include three athletes from each school in the conference, as approved by the players.

Economic freedom and equity

 The final segment covers several topics including guaranteed medical expenses coverage, name, image and likeness rights, as well as fair market pay and freedoms.

  • Players be allowed to select medical insurance coverage that allows for six years of coverage after collegiate eligibility ends for sports-related conditions and illness associated with COVID-19.
  • Freedom to secure representation and receive basic necessities from any third party, as divided to athletes in their respective sports.well as earning money for name, image and likeness rights.
  • The distribution of 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue to be evenly divided to athletes in their respective sports.
  • Six-year scholarships for athletes “to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion.”
  • Eliminate policies and procedures that restrict or deter freedom of speech. Allow full participation in charitable work and campus activities outside of mandatory athletics commitments.
  • Give players the ability to transfer once without punishment, and “additionally in cases of abuse or serious negligence.”
  • Allow eligibility completion if a player participates in a draft and is not chosen, or “foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.”
  • The last demand is simply “due process rights.”

In an article accompanying the list of demands, the Pac-12 players group said “NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes.” They added a rejection of the NCAA’s claim that ‘Black lives matter” while the system exploits Black athletes nationwide.”

Adequate COVID-19 testing is also sought. It was among several things noted in greater detail by the group.

“We are being asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities,” It read. “Because we are prohibited from securing representation while being asked to sign documents that may serve as liability waivers.”

Getting stuck with sports-related medical costs and expenses related to COVID-19 was also addressed. So, too, is a request to not lose eligibility or a scholarship if a player opts out because of coronavirus pandemic concerns.

Economic issues include relief in the form of “receiving basic necessities or compensation for the use of our names, images and likenesses, while many of us and our families are suffering economically from the COVID-19 fallout.”

That was followed by a request that athletes “be included in equitably sharing the revenue our talents generate, especially in a pandemic.” It was noted that 98% of college football and basketball players who won’t play professionally are unjustly prevented “from capitalizing economically on what would otherwise be the most valuable years of our lives, including many Black players from low-income homes.”

As such, there’s a request that lavish facility expenditures and salaries be eliminated to preserve all sports.

“Because the NCAA has failed us and we are prepared to ensure that our conference treats us fairly whether or not it continues its NCAA membership,” said the article, concluding with a vow to form alliances with other conferences to “unite with us for change.”

The “#WeAreUnited” movement has solicited a lot of discussion across the nation.

Former Cal linebacker Evan Weaver was among those showing support.

“Great to see these PAC 12 athletes take a stand!” Weaver said via Twitter. “Ridiculous they have to ask for these things!”

On the other side of the issue, the Dallas Morning News obtained a transcript of a telephone conversation between Washington State coach Nick Rolovich and wide receiver Kassidy Woods, who is opting out of the 2020 season because he has sickle cell anemia. 

In telling the coach about his decision, Rolovich asked if Woods was joining the Pac-12 unity group.

“That’s gonna be an issue if you align with them as far as future stuff, cause the COVID stuff is one thing. But, um, joining this group is gonna put you on a, on a — that’s obviously, you know, you get to keep your scholarship this year,” Rolovich said. “But it — it’s gonna be different. You know, if you, if you say, ‘I’m opting out ’cause of COVID and health and safety,’ I’m good. But this group is gonna change, uh, I guess, how things go in the future for everybody, at least at our school. 

“Um, so just think about that is, if it’s about getting paid and not (inaudible) about racial justice and that stuff. Then it’s probably, it’s there’s two sides, there’s two sides here. I’m good with the sickle cell and the COVID, and, but this, this group is gonna be at a different level as far as how we’re kind of going to move forward in the future. Does that make sense?” he continued.