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ASU Football: Pac-12 Players #WeAreUnited Movement Includes ASU Lineman Cody Shear

Pac-12 players come together during the pandemic to list demands or they will opt-out

Sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands.

That’s the thought process for hundreds of Pac-12 football players per and the Mercury News, who collectively announced via an article in The Players’ Tribune that they would not play this season unless the conference successfully negotiates and comes to an agreement for a multitude of issues spanning from COVID-19 precautions to social justice, with sprinkles of financial inequality as well. The group uses #WeAreUnited as a calling card to move forward in their fight.

Arizona State linemen Cody Shear was one of the names listed for contact.

At a time where our country faces a multitude of challenges with COVID-19 and racial inequality, the lead for change from Pac-12 student-athletes brings the conference’s leaders to a pivotal crossroad: Negotiate and meet demands of said players, or risk losing a large portion of players that will inevitably lessen a product they’re already losing money on.

This isn’t the first time college football players have attempted to organize for a greater cause, as Northwestern football players attempted to unionize back in 2014 but ultimately were quieted by the NCAA, although the move did see the Big Ten announce improvements to medical insurance and guaranteed multiyear scholarships.

Perhaps that’s the ultimate goal of the group of Pac-12 players, wherein a worst-case scenario at least some change is made for the betterment of current and future players.

From a Sun Devil perspective, it appears as if the university has done a satisfying job to make players feel protected with adequate testing/preventative measures, at least from what Shear told The Athletic’s, Doug Haller.

“I am lucky to play for a coaching staff who truly cares about me personally, as well as my long-term health. They do everything they can to prevent long term injuries, but there is only so much they can do” said Shear via Haller.

Shear also shared that head coach Herm Edwards is completely supportive, and also shared that conversations with other ASU players were “really positive” and he believes the movement “is something that will definitely pick up steam.”

“#WeAreUnited in our commitment to secure fair treatment for college athletes. Due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns, we will opt-out of Pac-12 fall camp and game participation unless the following demands are guaranteed in writing by our conference to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons.”- players of the conference

What the #WeAreUnited demands:

  1. Health and Safety: Health and safety protections that include an option to not play during the pandemic while maintaining eligibility and roster spot with player-approved mandatory safety standards to protect against COVID-19, which would be enforced by a third party.
  2. Protecting All Sports: Preserve all collegiate athletics by ending performance/academic bonuses and reduce excessive pay for Larry Scott, admin and coaches around the conference. The movement also calls for the end of “lavish facility expenditures” with that money utilized to preserve all athletics.
  3. Ending Racial Injustice in College Sports: The Pac-12 to form a permanent task force centralized for civic discussion/engagement consisting of player-chosen experts to ultimately address racial injustice in college sports/society. This would include 2% of conference revenue to be given as financial aid to low-income black students among a variety of other initiatives and development programs, with an annual conference summit focused on black college athletes including player-chosen representation from each school.
  4. Economic Freedom and Equity: Guaranteed medical expense coverage following six years after athletic eligibility ends, with freedom to utilize their name/image to earn money and accept basic necessities from any third party. 50% of each sport’s conference revenue would be distributed evenly among athletes in respective sports with a six-year athletic scholarship to see undergraduate/graduate degree completion. All policies restricted freedom of speech and preventing student-athletes from participating anything outside of mandatory athletics participation would be removed, with players given a one time transfer to another school without punishment (more in cases of abuse/negligence) and the ability to complete eligibility if said player goes undrafted.

With kickoff for the Sun Devils set for less than eight weeks, it appears the clock is ticking for leadership within the Pac-12 to quickly address the issues outlined above, should they choose to do so. There were are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the possibility of football being played prior to the #WeAreUnited movement, and the recent demands appear to be yet another obstacle for the conference to hurdle prior to seeing the season successfully start.