Pac-12 players, commissioner remain divided over coronavirus protocol - Sports Illustrated

Pac-12 Players, Commissioner Larry Scott Remain Divided Over Coronavirus Protocol

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Leaders of the Pac-12 player-driven movement, #WeAreUnited, lashed out at the conference in an email Friday evening, describing their feelings as disappointed and deeply concerned.

The two sides held their first call Thursday night, which focused predominantly on health and safety concerns from players regarding COVID-19. In their letter to commissioner Larry Scott on Friday, athletes criticized the conference for its delay in meeting with them—four days after their original list of demands last Sunday—and wrote that the league is not taking the matter seriously.

The group listed demands that it hopes to see the conference rectify, including uniform safety protocols “consistent with best scientific practices,” written confirmation that COVID liability waivers will not be used, the right to have attorneys present during calls and the scheduling of daily meetings with league officials. Also in a new demand, they seek daily testing for COVID-19. “While we are discouraged by the tone, tenor, and general unpreparedness of Pac-12 leadership during our meeting, there is still an opportunity for the Pac-12 to change course before leading the conference into disaster,” says the letter, a copy of which was obtained Saturday by Sports Illustrated.

#WeAreUnited’s letter came after Scott sent the group a follow-up email earlier Friday, outlining steps the conference is taking to satisfy concerns that player leaders voiced during Thursday’s two-hour call. The league is working with its COVID-19 advisory committee to answer their questions and is in the process of assuring that no virus waivers are being used within the conference (the conference does not believe any Pac-12 school is using such). Scott advised #WeAreUnited to work with the league’s previously formed player-led committees and promised to provide more information to the group soon.

Conference leaders in the Pac-12 believe they’ve satisfied much of #WeAreUnited’s demands already, and they were struck Friday night by the tone of the group’s latest correspondence. Conference officials say they haven’t banned the group from involving attorneys. The Pac-12 is open to its attorneys speaking with any representative of #WeAreUnited, a source told SI. Also, the Pac-12’s medical plan, while not including daily testing, requires regular testing akin to plans created by other FBS conferences.

Despite these points, #WeAreUnited ripped the league in its email, of which the subject line is “Urgent Concerns Regarding 08/06/2020 Meeting.” The Pac-12’s latest letter opened a window into the conversation between the two sides Thursday, citing several quotes from the meeting, including one from Oregon safety Jevon Holland. “Our deepest fear is the Pac-12’s negligent return to play may result in a member of our Pac-12 family dying due to COVID-19,” he told conference leaders, according to the letter.

Eighteen Pac-12 players signed the latest #WeAreUnited letter, seven more than had put their name on the original demand letter last Sunday. They include:

Ty Amos-Jones, University of Washington
Dylan Boles, Stanford University
Treyjohn Butler, Stanford University
Andrew Cooper, UC Berkeley
Jake Curhan, UC Berkeley
Valentino Daltoso, UC Berkeley
Joshua Drayden, UC Berkeley
Nick Ford, University of Utah
Elisha Guidry, UCLA
Jaydon Grant, Oregon State
Malik Hausman, University of Arizona
Elijah Higgins, Stanford University
Dallas Hobbs, Washington State
Jevon Holland, University of Oregon
Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA
Cody Shear, Arizona State
Joe Tryon, University of Washington
Chase Williams, USC