Pac-12 Players Make Demands of Conference or They Won't Play; Huskies Involved
A group of Pac-12 football players, involving the University of Washington and most if not all of the conference schools, have released a letter calling for a boycott of fall camp and games if a number of pandemic and social-justice concerns aren't met.
The document, published on The Players Tribune on Sunday, says, "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."
While reports say a large faction of players are involved, a follow-up release identified 12 players representing nine schools as supportive of the effort — including Husky outside linebacker Joe Tryon and wide receiver Ty Jones, both juniors and prospective starters.
No players from USC, Colorado or Utah were listed as contacts for this movement. Tyron and Jones did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Email addresses provided for them didn't work.
Tryon, however, retweeted posts made by UW sophomore outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui and Oregon All-American offensive lineman Penei Sewell regarding the players' message.
In the video taken on Friday, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, Stanford coach David Shaw and others took part in the conference's schedule unveiling for the coming season that remains in jeopardy because of the novel coronavirus spread.
Shaw, speaking on behalf of his coaching peers, said no players should be penalized for not taking part in practices or games because of the pandemic.
Each Pac-12 school will play 10 conference games if possible, beginning on Sept. 26, likely in empty stadiums. The Huskies are scheduled to host Stanford on that opening Saturday. League-wide, fall camps will open on Aug. 17 or later.
However, the players, using the hashtag #WeAreUnited, have called for immediate change on four levels before proceeding with football:
1. Pandemic concerns. The group wants players to have the right to opt out of the season without penalty of losing their scholarships or eligibility; to reject liability waivers that could be forthcoming; and to have a player oversight committee.
2. Change employment contracts. The players want conference administrators and coaches to have their salary and performance- and academic-bonus incentives reduced, describing it as "excessive pay" without explaining what that means.
3. Racial injustice. The group wants committees formed to address racial issues within college athletics and redirect some revenues to low-income African American students or campus programs.
4. Scholarships. The players want scholarships extended to six years and a guarantee of sports-related medical expenses for six years.
In a statement, the Pac-12 officials said neither the conference nor any of its universities had been contacted by this group or had any of these issues presented to them.
"We support our student-athletes using their voice and have regular communications with our student-athletes at many different levels on a range of topics," the league statement said. "As we have clearly stated with respect to our fall competition plans, we are, and always will be, directed by medical experts, with the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff always the first priority. We have made it clear that any student-athlete who choose not to return to competition for health or safety reasons will have their scholarship protected."
Besides the two Huskies, other Pac-12 players identified with this movement are Stanford's Treyjohn Butler, California's Jake Curhan and Valentino Daltosa, Oregon State's Jaydon Grant, UCLA's Elisha Guidry, Arizona's Malik Hausman, Washington State's Dallas Hobbs, Oregon's Jevon Holland and Arizona State's Cody Shear.
Sav'ell Smalls, UW incoming freshman outside linebacker, tweeted out his support of the action taken, and his post was retweeted by teammate Nate Kalepo, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman.
Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven
Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: HuskyMaven/Sports Illustrated
Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Husky Maven. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.