SALT LAKE CITY — Following demands for change from a group of Pac-12 football players a week ago, Mountain West football players are the latest athlete group looking for change amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hawaii’s Quentin Frazier was the first of many Mountain West football players to tweet out a graphic with the #MWUnited.
“As the foundation of the entertainment and competition provided by the sport of Gridiron Football, we, the athletes, do not feel safe enough participating in this upcoming season without reform. There is too much ambiguity surrounding the state of affairs in this country to demand competition as we know it. These last four months have altered the lives of not just Americans, but the human race. We have families and children just like any fan, coach, citizen, or worker. The virus is real and rampant in this country. Although the coaching staffs of the Mountain West have taken commendable steps to revolutionize the way we train and grow, we do not feel comfortable playing teams from other states. It is difficult to believe that hundreds of 17 to 22-year-old college students are capable of social-distancing effectively enough to travel state-to-state for 10 weeks. This is evident in the reports released by several schools that have had an increase in cases of COVID-19 following return to OTA-style workouts. For these reasons, we have established conditions to be agreed upon amongst the conference, coaches, and athletes in order to ensure our health, safety, and well-being.”
The graphic laid out a list of 12 conditions:
<em>Testing, Prevention, and Safety </em>
• Athletes will receive COVID-19 tests every week and at least 72 hours before each match as instructed by the NCAA
• Staff members, including coaches, trainers, and anyone in contact with athletes, will receive COVID-19 tests every week
• Football facilities will follow strict cleaning protocols with adherence to CDC guidelines
• Contact-tracing protocols with adherence to CDC guidelines
• Proper accommodations and safety standards for alternative outdoor facilities put in place to adhere with social-distancing guidelines
<em>Eligibility and Scholarship </em>
• Athletes who choose to opt-out of season due to COVID-19 concerns will receive a hardship waiver to grant them an additional year of eligibility, regardless of athlete’s timeline on five-year clock
• Athletes who contract COVID-19 during season and miss more than 30% of competition will receive a hardship waiver to grant them an additional year of eligibility, regardless of athlete’s timeline on five-year clock
• In event of cancellation of over 50% of scheduled season, all athletes will receive a hardship waiver to grant them an additional year of eligibility, regardless of athlete’s timeline on five-year clock
• Preserve scholarship (including tuition and fees, room and board, and cost-of-attendance stipend) and roster spot for any athlete who is granted hardship waiver due to COVID-19
<em>Player Assurances </em>
• Ban and void all COVID-19 liability waivers
• Ensure coverage of all out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 incurred by athletes for five years after exhaustion of eligibility
• Whistleblower protection for athletes and staff who report suspected violations to COVID-19 safety protocols
The Mountain West Conference responded in a statement:
“The Mountain West has become aware this evening of a social media posting from #MWUnited. As outlined in yesterday’s announcement by the MW Board of Directors, the Mountain West’s revised fall sports plan will align with the requirements set forth by the NCAA Board of Governors. In addition, the MW continues to develop comprehensive testing and reporting procedures, building on the NCAA Resocialization of College Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition.
“As a result, nearly all of the issues which have been raised are already being addressed. Additional clarity will be provided via upcoming decisions of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors on August 14 and August 21, as well as on-going efforts by multiple groups within the Mountain West governance structure. The Mountain West and its member institutions value the input of our most important constituents, our student-athletes, and look forward to continued communication with our long-standing MW Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.”