By Ralph D. Russo, AP College Football Writer
CALIFORNIA (AP) — Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott met with representatives from the #WeAreUnited college player group, with much of the discussion focused on the conference’s health and safety protocols.
The call lasted two hours Thursday night and 12 players took part, according to a person familiar with the discussion who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private and the league had no official comment.
The players have demanded the Pac-12 address a list of concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for college athletes. They have threatened to opt of of practices and games if their demands are not addressed by the conference.
Members of the players’ group did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the meeting. The person familiar with what was discussed said a date for a second meeting was not set, but the Pac-12 said it expects to provide next week an update on medical protocols and whether athletes could be permitted to retain eligibility if they opt out of the season because of COVID-19 concerns.
The players’ financial demands, which included sharing 50% of revenue each sport makes with the the players and reducing the salary of Scott and other administrators, were a small part of the conversation, the person said.
Meanwhile, the Mountain West became the latest conference to have its players take a public stand of unity, echoing the Pac-12 and Big Ten player groups in asking for assurances about COVID-19 protocols and testing, along eligibility and scholarship retention.
The Mountain West quickly responded Thursday night with a statement, saying many of the players’ concerns were already being addressed and that the schools “value of out most important constituents, our student-athletes.”
The Mountain West players, unlike the Pac-12 players, did not say they would opt out of the practices and games if their concerns were not addressed.
Earlier this week, the NCAA announced schools would be required to keep on scholarship any athlete opting out of this season because of concerns about COVID-19. No decision has been made on whether those athletes will be allowed to retain their eligibility, but the NCAA said it wanted a plan from each of its three divisions by Aug. 14.
Players around the country are already opting out of the coming season, with some saying goodbye to college football for good. On Thursday, potential first-round NFL draft picks Micah Parsons of Penn State, Gregory Rousseau of Miami and Rondale Moore of Purdue announced they were skipping the season to concentrate on preparing for pro careers.
On Friday, Michigan State starting offensive tackle Jordan Reid posted on social media that he was opting out of this season because of COVID-19, but planned redshirt and to return next season as a graduate student.
Maryland coach Mike Locksley announced six players, including starting quarterback Josh Jackson and two starting offensive linemen, were opting out.
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