SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) –A group of Pac-12 football players say they will not practice or play until their concerns about playing during the COVID-19 pandemic and other racial and economic issues in college sports are addressed.
ESPN first reported the possible movement among players at multiple Pac-12 schools and The Athletic published the text invitation. The text says a public announcement, along with a list of demands, will be published Monday through The Players Tribune and social media platforms.
“Our goals is obtain a written contract with the Pac-12 that legally ensures we are offered the following protections and benefits.”
The release listed the names of 12 Pac-12 players from nine schools, including Oregon star safety Jevon Holland, and provided a statement from each one.
Treyjohn Butler of Stanford; Jake Curhan, Joshua Drayden and Valentino Daltoso of California; Elisha Guidry of UCLA; Malik Hausman of Arizona; Dallas Hobbs of Washington State; Ty Jones and Joe Tryon of Washington and Cody Shear of Arizona State.
In the text, the following demands are listed:
- Ensure safe play during COVID-19
- Fight racial injustice
- Secure economic rights and fair compensation
- Protect all sports
- Obtain long-term health insurance
The conference announced on Friday it would begin its 10-game, conference-only college football season on Sept. 26 with a schedule with built-in make-up game provisions if a team is forced to reschedule because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The conference also announced that any Pac-12 student-athletes who chooses not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the coming academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.
On the gridiron, the annual showdown between Arizona and Arizona State and the battle of Los Angeles bragging rights between UCLA-USC will take place on opening weekend instead of at its traditional spot near the end of the regular season.
Other first weekend matchup will be California facing off against Oregon State, highly ranked Oregon will open against Colorado, Stanford will take on Washington and Washington State will meet Utah.
For San Francisco Bay Area fans, the Big Game between Cal and Stanford will now take place in week 5.
“The schedule and return to play plans provide for maximum flexibility and the best opportunity to play all fall sports in an environment that prioritizes safety,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “At the same time, we will continue to evaluate the best available science, data and advice of public health officials as we make decisions and any required adjustments going forward.”
In the case a team is sidelined for a weekend by an outbreak and needs to reschedule, the league has built in a bye week for each team and also will extend the season for additional weekend on Dec. 12th if necessary.
The Pac-12 also approved a plan that will allow teams in the conference to start 20 hours per week of team activities, including weight training, meetings and noncontact practices known as walk-throughs. Preseason practice in the Pac-12 is scheduled to start Aug. 17, but currently Southern California, UCLA and California are operating under local restrictions that would prevent their football teams from practicing.
“Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “We support our student-athletes using their voices, 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 health, safety and well being of our student athletes, coaches and staff always the first priority. We have made it clear that any student who chooses not to return to competition for health and safety reasons will have their scholarship protected.”