Pac-12 Leaders Propose Call With Group of Players Threatening to Skip 2020 Season

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Pac-12 leaders have agreed to schedule a call with a group of conference players who are threatening to boycott the 2020 season.

In an email sent Wednesday night to the #WeAreUnited group, commissioner Larry Scott proposed a Zoom call for 8 p.m. PT Thursday to discuss the athletes’ list of demands, which were revealed over the weekend in a public unveiling. A copy of the email was obtained by Sports Illustrated. The proposed call would include Scott, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson, Utah athletic director Mark Harlan and Pac-12 assistant commissioner Chris Merino, the league’s liaison to student-athlete groups.

The two sides, the Pac-12 and #WeAreUnited, have traded emails over the last several days, starting with the original list of demands sent to Scott on Sunday. The email was signed by 11 players, each from a different school in the conference. Colorado was the only school without a signatory. The group’s demands are as reasonable as asking the league to form a permanent civic engagement task force for social injustice issues and as aggressive as asking Scott to take a pay cut and demanding the league distribute 50% of each sport's conference revenue among athletes.

Many of the players’ virus-related demands were met Wednesday when the NCAA announced a series of health-and-safety requirements for schools and conferences to implement during the 2020 season. In his Wednesday letter, Scott noted that the association’s announcement should have satisfied some of the group’s requests. “I wanted to share with you in advance of our call some background materials—including an announcement made by the NCAA Board of Governors earlier today—that I believe are directly responsive to some of the topics and concerns that you have raised, and that will help inform our initial conversation,” Scott wrote.

The NCAA is requiring all schools to cover athlete expenses related to COVID-19 and to honor all scholarships for players who opt out of the season. The association is also banning all liability waivers that schools were requiring athletes to sign. The Pac-12, Scott noted in his letter, had already met all of those requests before the NCAA’s decision.

Scott plans Thursday to send the group the most updated health and safety guidelines and protocols created by the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee, as well as a full list of the members of that committee.

If it does happen, the call between Pac-12 leaders and #WeAreUnited would be somewhat of a landmark event in college football history. Conference and school athletic administrators would be entering into potential negotiations with a group that is at least acting as a players' union, something forbidden in the NCAA. However, the size and scope of the group is still unclear.

Already, several Pac-12 players have voiced their public support for the movement while also announcing that they plan to play this season—demands met or not. Players from different campuses across the conference organized the movement via Zoom calls. They are being helped by Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Football Players Association. 

On Wednesday, players from the Big Ten announced a similar movement, with a list of requests that exclusively regarded COVID-19 safety measures.