Football players from many of the Pac-12 schools, including at least three athletes from Cal, have composed a letter that was posted in The Players Tribune on Sunday that listed specific demands that would cause the players to opt out of fall camp and regular-season games if they are not met.
Sports Illustrated reported that more than 100 players are included in this group that is making demands, and that they have been meeting for more than a month.
The issues include safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, methods to address racial injustice and variety of other demands, all under the hashtag #WeAreUnited.
“The coronavirus has put a spotlight on a lot of the injustices in college athletics,” Cal offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso told Sports Illustrated. “The way to effect change and the way to get your voice heard is to affect the bottom line. Our power as players comes from being together. The only way to do this is to do something collectively.
“Talking about Black Lives Matter as a social issue, the wealth gap is such a huge part of it. Guys who come from low-income backgrounds, when they leave to go school they can go back to having nothing. One small group of people are pulling in all the money when it could go to so many communities.
"Guys realize the moment and are standing together in unity throughout this whole thing. This is bigger than our individual selves. This is for all future college athletes.”
ESPN.com cited 12 players who acknowledged they were among the players who threatened to opt out if their demands are not met.
The three from Cal are offensive tackle Jake Curhan, offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso and defensive back Joshua Drayden. The other nine include Stanford cornerback Treyjohn Butler, Oregon State cornerback Jaydon Grant, UCLA defensive back Elisha Guidry, Arizona cornerback Malik Hausman, Washington state defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs, Oregon safety Jevon Holland, Washington wide receiver Ty Jones and Arizona State offensive lineman Cody Shear.
A tweet from Cal defensive back Elijah Hicks:
And Cal wide receiver Trevon Clark:
Among the players’ list of demands is for the Pac-12 to form a civic engagement task force to address social injustice issues. They are also asking for an annual Black College Athlete Summit with that would include at least three athletes from each of the 12 schools.
They also want guarantees for their health amid the COVID-19 crisis, and they want 2% of conference revenue directed toward low-income Black students, community initiatives and development programs for college athletes on campus.
The players want Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott as well as administrators and coaches to reduce their pay, and they want 50 percent of each sport's conference revenue distributed among athletes. They also want six-year athletic scholarships and guarantees that no sports will be eliminated.
The players want to be able to opt out of participating in football activities during the pandemic without losing eligibility or a roster spot and they want liability waivers to be removed.
Former Cal standout Evan Weaver chimed in via Twitter:
The players' letter in The Players' Tribune starts with this introduction:
To ensure future generations of college athletes will be treated fairly, #WeAreUnited.
Because NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes, #WeAreUnited.
In rejecting the NCAA’s claim that #BlackLivesMatter while also systematically exploiting Black athletes nationwide, #WeAreUnited.
Because we are being asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities, #WeAreUnited.
Because we must have adequate COVID testing to help protect our health, #WeAreUnited.
Because we are prohibited from securing representation while being asked to sign documents that may serve as liability waivers, #WeAreUnited.
Because we should not be stuck with sports-related medical expenses, including COVID-19 related expenses, #WeAreUnited.
Because any player who does not feel comfortable playing this season should be free to opt out without losing their scholarship or any eligibility, #WeAreUnited.
Because immoral rules would punish us for receiving basic necessities or compensation for the use of our names, images and likenesses, while many of us and our families are suffering economically from the COVID-19 fallout, #WeAreUnited.
Because we should be included in equitably sharing the revenue our talents generate, especially in a pandemic, #WeAreUnited.
Because unjust rules prevent the 98% of college football and basketball players who won’t go pro from capitalizing economically on what would otherwise be the most valuable years of our lives, including many Black players from low-income homes, #WeAreUnited.
Because eliminating lavish salaries and facility expenditures to preserve all sports must be prioritized, #WeAreUnited.
Because the NCAA has failed us and we are prepared to ensure that our conference treats us fairly whether or not it continues its NCAA membership, #WeAreUnited.
In forming alliances with college athletes from other conferences to unite with us for change, #WeAreUnited.
#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.
Its list of demands includes the following as outlined in the letter in The Players’ Tribune:
I. Health & Safety Protections
1. Allow option not to play during the pandemic without losing athletics eligibility or spot on our team’s roster.
2. Prohibit/void COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.
Mandatory Safety Standards, Including COVID-19 Measures
1. Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19, as well as serious injury, abuse and death.
II. Protect All Sports
Preserve All Existing Sports by Eliminating Excessive Expenditures
1. Larry Scott, administrators, and coaches to voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay.
2. End performance/academic bonuses. 3. End lavish facility expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports.*
*As an example, Stanford University should reinstate all sports discontinued by tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment.
III. End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society
1. Form a permanent civic-engagement task force made up of our leaders, experts of our choice, and university and conference administrators to address outstanding issues such as racial injustice in college sports and in society.
2. In partnership with the Pac-12, 2% of conference revenue would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.
3. Form annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit with guaranteed representation of at least three athletes of our choice from every school.
IV. Economic Freedom and Equality
Guaranteed Medical Expense Coverage
1. Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.
Name, Image, and Likeness Rights & Representation
1. The freedom to secure representation, receive basic necessities from any third party, and earn money for use of our name, image, and likeness rights.
Fair Market Pay, Rights, & Fredoms
1. Distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.
2. Six-year athletic scholarships to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion.
3. Elimination of all policies and practices restricting or deterring our freedom of speech, our ability to fully participate in charitable work, and our freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation.
4. Ability of players of all sports to transfer one time without punishment, and additionally in cases of abuse or serious negligence.
5. Ability to complete eligibility after participating in a pro draft if player goes undrafted and foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.
6. Due process rights
And it is signed, Players of the Pac-12.
Cal outside linebacker Cameron Goode checks in on Twitter:
And Cal linebacker Kuony Deng:
And Cal center Michael Saffell gets the final word:
As you can see from the comments added below this story that not every observer is on board with these demands.
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