Pac-12 Players, Commissioner Have Preliminary Communication on Demands
The Pac-12 football players who are making demands and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott have already exchanged preliminary communications, according to notes obtained by Sports Illustrated and ESPN.
The latest development came late Monday when Washington State coach Nick Rolovich issued a statement about his phone call with a player, Kassidy Woods. The statement is related to the players' demands and will be noted later in this story.
A group of hundreds of Pac-12 players are making demands on a wide-range of issues, including health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice and financial considerations among many other issues. The players in the group are threating to opt-out of preseason practice and games if their demands are not met.
Here is the essence of the preliminary communications.
On Sunday, the players group sent an email to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott requesting a Zoom meeting with Scott and conference athletic directors beginning on Monday, August 3.
Scott responded with a letter on Monday, saying he is willing to discuss the issues but must first confer with Pac-12 members and would not meet with the players' group until later in the week.
The players group responded to Scott's letter by saying that's not soon enough.
Here are excerpts from each communication and links to the entire letters.
The players' initial email was obtained by Sports Illustrated, and it began this way:
To Mr. Scott and all Pac-12 athletic directors,
We are contacting you on behalf of hundreds of Pac-12 football players throughout the conference who are very concerned with the risks COVID-19 poses to our personal health and the health of our families and communities. The lack of health and safety standards and enforcement in NCAA sports is already playing a role in COVID-19 cases among athletes throughout the conference. We believe a football season under these conditions would be reckless and put us at needless risk.
The lack of regard for our health and safety is central to the systemic racial injustices imposed by NCAA sports that disproportionately exploits Black athletes physically, academically, and financially.
The email concludes with this line:
We are requesting daily Zoom meetings with you, our Player Representative Team beginning on Monday August 3rd at 8:00pm with Mr. Scott and our athletic directors until our demands are met. Please contact us at [REDACTED] to arrange the details.
The players' entire email can be seen by clicking here.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott responded with a three-page letter to the players group. The letter, obtained by Sports Illustrated, begins this way:
Thank you for your note from last night and related documents, which we are currently reviewing and will discuss with our members over the next couple of days. We are eager to hear more about your concerns and very happy to discuss. I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised.
Scott's entire letter, which includes current Pac-12 policies on a lot of the issues raised by the players, is available by clicking here:
ESPN obtained the players' Monday night response to Scott's letter, and it stated as follows:
"While we appreciate the response, we are looking to move on a faster timeline than you have proposed. We are two weeks from fall camp and would like to work to come to a resolution so that we can play this season. Every day that we don't have discussions puts players at additional risk of COVID."
Meanwhile, Rolovich attempted to clarify his conversation with Woods, which Woods understood to mean he was dropped from the team because of his alignment with the players' demands. Here is Rolovich's statement, according to USA Today.
“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns. Kassidy informed me he was opting out of this season for health and safety concerns. I wanted to clarify with Kassidy that his decision was based on health and safety and reaffirm our policy related to COVID-19 and the assurance of his scholarship. Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities unless they choose to opt-out for health and safety reasons.”
Of course, the players' demands and Rolovich's initial words and subsequent statement all come in the context that there may not be a college football season this fall. The Pac-12 has scheduled games beginning Sept. 26, but we are a long way from clearing the path for that to happen.
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