How Serious is Pac-12 Player Revolt and What Comes Next?

Dan Raley

After a group of Pac-12 football players made its list of demands for participation in an upcoming college season fraught with pandemic concerns, a lot of questions remain.

How unified is the movement?

Is recognized player leadership in place to meet with conference or university officials to negotiate?

And will there even be a season in seven weeks, depending on novel coronavirus spikes, that would maintain player leverage?

For a few months, word circulated that a number of Pac-12 football players were meeting and discussing grievances, and how to act on them. It was just a matter of when it would be revealed.

That was answered Sunday when the players published a letter on The Players Tribune that listed four main areas of grievances: 1) pandemic health concerns; 2) racial injustice; 3) scholarship or eligibility loss; and 4) a re-appropriation of administrative or coaching salaries to designated causes. 

That a player revolt could happen in the Pac-12 was no surprise, considering that schools from Berkeley, California, to Seattle have long histories of protests, boycotts and sit-ins going back to the Vietnam war.

It's still not clear how many players are seriously involved. Reports range from hundreds to more than a 100, with Washington's Joe Tryon and Ty Jones identified as part of the protest.

How serious is the movement?

While players tweeted and retweeted the letter throughout the morning, some email addresses for principal figures supplied to the media were erroneous, with misspelled names, preventing further communication. Players didn't respond to Facebook messages either. 

Meantime, the Pac-12 sent out a statement registering its surprise, saying no one had presented a list of demands to the conference office or to the universities involved.

As far as reaction, some players suggested that one Pac-12 football program already had punished players for their involvement in this movement, though there was no confirmation of this. 

While some of the issues seem easily resolvable, such as dealing with social injustice, setting health standards and preserving scholarships and eligibility for opt-outs, the demand for lowering administrative and coaches' salaries would appear complicated.

So what's next?

The league logistically could move forward without the protesting players and use those unwilling to put their college, and NFL, careers on the line. No matter what, it was always certain some players would opt out.

Teams are due to report on Aug. 17 or soon thereafter to prepare for 10-game schedules against conference opponents-only that begin on Sept. 26. Washington hosts Stanford that day.

The conference could look at this player pushback, not want any part of it, and simply cancel the season.

Or the virus, if it spikes again, will do that for everyone. 

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Comments (2)
No. 1-2

Sure they are serious. Have they thought through the implications. No! Each conference can't have their own set of demands let alone each sport. Send the demands to the NCAA. Insist a year to implement negotiated demands. Get the feeling the star players (football) are driving this protest.

Dan Raley
Dan Raley


I'd like to know more about the involvement. How many players? Who are the leaders? What happens in two weeks? They sort of put this out there and then retreated to watch the reaction. I'm thinking the coaches will treat this like injured players. If you're not ready to go, he'll turn to the next guy.