Proposed Pac-12 Player Boycott Brings Stinging Fan Rebuke
Fan reaction appeared decidedly negative after a group of Pac-12 football players — including All-American linebacker candidate Joe Tryon and wide receiver Ty Jones from the University of Washington — on Sunday threatened to boycott the coming season unless a list of demands were met.
The players made their intentions known in a letter published in The Players Tribune. It came two days after the Pac-12 released revised 10-game schedules for each team that makes adjustments for the novel coronavirus outbreak. Season openers were reset for Sept. 26, with the UW facing Stanford that day at Husky Stadium.
UW football followers on social media expressed more disgust than support for what's been called a "unity movement" and calls for greater pandemic safety measures, scholarship and eligibility protections, more attention given to racial injustice and a re-appropriation of administrative and coaches' salaries. Here's SI's national take on the stitution.
Many fans expressed how this action felt like piling on with the college football season and other sports already in jeopardy because of the pandemic.
"Been a sports fan all of my life along with the rest of my family," UW fan Kevin Davis wrote on social media. "It's totally ingrained in me. Particularly college sports. But I am so sick of all of the pampered, entitled athletes I may never watch again."
Another fan, Russ Dahl, posted the following, "Make a stand ... pull their scholarships and give them 72 hrs to get off campus."
Yet former UW football players and other fans voiced their support, also citing the earlier NCAA legislation that will permit endorsement opportunities for players who lend their name, image and likeness for team promotion.
"I don't think it makes them greedy. It makes them smart," fan Mark Friberg posted. "NCAA has been ripping these kids off for decades. Let them have a slice of the pie!"
The players didn't respond to interview requests; instead, they tweeted out responses to the public criticism and to reports of retribution against Washington State University players for taking part in the unity effort.
Tryon, a junior from Renton, Washington, simply posted: "2020 revealing peoples true colors."
Without naming names, UW players on Sunday tweeted how their Cougars counterparts had informed them that some would be dropped from the team for their involvement in the movement.
Later, the Dallas Morning News reported that WSU wide receiver Kassidy Woods, a Texas native who had elected to opt out of playing for health concerns, was strongly discouraged from joining the movement by new coach Nick Rolovich.
The newspaper published a full transcript of a recording of a telephone conversation between Woods and Rolovich that can be read here.
A WSU spokesperson denied that Woods had been removed from the team. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that no players have been dropped.
Still, Levi Onwuzurike, the UW's senior All-American candidate at defensive tackle and another Texan, expressed his unhappiness with the WSU situation on Twitter, posting, "@nickrolovich. that's not how its done. Couldn't even take a second to listen to your players. Terrible job."
At the same time, the Huskies' Jones, a junior wide receiver from Salt Lake City and identified as a Pac-12 unity supporter, seemed to walk back some of the player disgruntlement by defending new head coach Jimmy Lake and the UW training staff in a tweet.
Asked for a statement on the players' protest, a UW spokesperson deferred to the league office. The Pac-12 said it had received no demands from anyone, nor had any member school.
Pac-12 players are expected to report for fall camp on Aug. 17 and have 25 practices to prepare themselves for the tentative season.
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