Big Ten Players Make Demands But Do Not Threaten to Opt-Out

Jake Curtis

At first glance, it appeared we had the birth of a movement, with the Big Ten joining the Pac-12 in making demands regarding several issues, including health concerns.

But there is one major difference.

When the Pac-12 players listed their demands over the weekend, they said they would opt-out of practices and games if their concerns were not adequately addressed.

When the Big Ten players, under the title of #BigTenUnited, listed its demands in The Players Tribune on Wednesday, there was no threat to do anything if the demands are not met.

Perhaps the Big Ten is waiting to make its "or else" option known only if communication with Big Ten officials provides no satisfactory solutions. As it stands, though, it is merely a wish list.

It could be argued that the Big Ten players' are taking a more measured, more judicious and more reasonable action.

It also could be argued the Big Ten players' demands lack teeth.

How it will affect the Pac-12 players' stance remains to be seen, but the Pac-12 players' demands would have been given more strength if the Big Ten players had made a similar threat to opt-out.

The Big Ten announced its revised football schedue for the 2020 season, with games beginning Sept. 3, which is more than three weeks before the Pac-12's first game.

Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that more than 70% of the Idaho football players said they don't want to play this fall because of health concerns, Sports Illustrated reported based on information provided by Brett McMurphy.  Will we hear more stories like that in the coming days -- stories that will give power to the stances of the Pac-12 and Big Ten players?

The Big Ten players' demands include the following excerpt:

"While we appreciate the Big Ten's recently announced plan for the upcoming season, we believe that the conference's proposal falls short in certain areas," the Big Ten players wrote. "Given that the players are the primary stakeholders in the business of college sports, we believe any course of action moving forward needs to include player input. We are deeply disappointed with the lack of leadership demonstrated by the NCAA with respect to player safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We believe that the NCAA must - on its own and through collaboration with the conference - devise a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety and well-being of players leading up to and during the upcoming fall season."

Click here to read the entire list of Big Ten player demands:

Among their Big Ten players' demands were: having third parties administer COVID-19 testing and enforce health standards; penalties for noncompliance; whistleblower protections; banning COVID-19 liability waivers; preservation of athletic eligibility, scholarship and roster spot for a player who opts out or is unable to play more than 40% of the games; and coverage of out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19.

Players from the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 must at least consider making demands, and whether they want to make any threats about participation.

Although the Pac-12 players' demands included threats they would opt-out, it remains to be seen how many will actually sit out games in support of the cause. At least two Pac-12 players who claim to be aligned with the players' demands said they would not sit out games.

The College Athlete Unity (CAU) claims to be entity that expressing the Big Ten players' concerns. ESPN.com reports the origin of the CAU. This summer Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds and Minnesota defensive back Benjamin St-Juste initiated CAU to give college athletes a platform to perform peaceful protests regarding racial injustice and other issues.

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