Athletes Pen #BigTenUnited Letter To Conference

Adam Hensley

The Big Ten released its updated conference football schedules on Wednesday, but some athletes weren't thrilled.

More than 1,000 players from the conference, all members of College Athlete Unity (CAU), wrote a letter to the Big Ten, which was published on The Players' Tribune titled '#BigTenUnited.'

CAU wanted to let the Big Ten know that while it appreciates its plans for the season, the goals "fall short in certain areas," and that it has a proposal for the well-being of student-athletes.

"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," wrote CAU. "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."

The group criticized the NCAA's hands-off approach, saying that inconsistent procedures resulted from the governing body's distance on the situation.

CAU wants more transparency, player assurance, and economic support when it comes to protecting the players' well-being.

A look at the CAU statement:


  • CAU wants a player-approved third party to administer COVID-19 testing
  • Sufficient penalties for noncompliance, and for personnel to report suspected violations

Safety protocols

  • Players want up-to-date information on COVID-19, adherence to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control guidance, and compliance with federal, state, and local regulations
  • Appropriate safety standards for each sport, including social-distancing requirements and mandatory mask-wearing in and around facilities and others
  • Cleaning and sanitation protocols for uniforms, equipment, and facilities
  • Temperature checks for all entering any athletic facility

Testing procedures

  • Contract-tracing protocols and testing for anyone who comes in contact with college athletes
  • In-season testing three days per week (twice per week with an FDA-approved test with less than 1% false negatives and testing on the day of competition)
  • Immediate quarantine for those positive or showing symptoms, and rules on such for those athletes on their return to practice and competition
  • Criteria for shutting down the season if COVID-19 takes a turn for the worse or more significant outbreaks occur

Player assurance

  • CAU wants whisteblower protection for those reporting suspected violations
  • A ban on use of COVID-19 liability waivers
  • Automatic redshirts for those missing any competition due to positive COVID-19 tests or mandatory quarantines
  • Preservation of athletic eligibility, scholarship, and roster spot for those who opt out of their respective seasons or if they're unable to play more than 40% of their schedule due to COVID-19 or postponement/cancellation
  • Complimentary access to the Big Ten Network for athletes' family members

Hazard-related economic support

  • CAU wants coverage for all out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 for college athletes
  • Scholarship protections if the season should be cancelled
  • Adjusted cost-of-living stipends
  • Reimbursement for reduced winter stipends

For additional content, follow Adam Hensley on Twitter @A_Hens83

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

These demands are reasonable. And realistic, unlike the Pac-10 players.