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College football is a multi-billion dollar business that the NCAA is desperate to keep going despite being in the midst of a global pandemic. This moved athletes in the Pac-12 conference to band together and threaten to opt-out of the season if certain safety and societal needs are not met.
On Sunday, a group of Pac-12 football players published an article in The Players Tribune. In the piece, the athletes claim that they are prepared to sit out of fall camp and games if the NCAA/Pac-12 doesn't adhere to their safety demands.
"#WeAreUnited in our commitment to secure fair treatment for college athletes. 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," the statement reads.
The piece goes on to list out sections of demand with requirements regarding health and safety protections and protection for all sports—not just football. First, the players want the option of not playing in the pandemic without fear of losing their scholarships. They want to void any COVID-19 waivers that were signed by Pac-12 athletes as well as have a third party enforce coronavirus and social distancing regulations.
Also, they want an equal share of revenue to be extended to all sports by reducing the "excessive" pay coaches receive and other unnecessary benefits.
"Larry Scott, administrators, and coaches to voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay. End performance/academic bonuses. End lavish facility expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports," the demands read. "As an example, Stanford University should reinstate all sports discontinued by tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment."
The demands touch on topics outside of coronavirus protocol, as well. The players make it clear that they want their universities to end racial injustices on campus and in the surrounding communities by redistributing conference revenue.
"Form a permanent civic-engagement task force made up of our leaders, experts of our choice, and university and conference administrators to address outstanding issues such as racial injustice in college sports and in society," it continues. "In partnership with the Pac-12, two percent of conference revenue would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus."
They also demand fair market pay, rights and freedom, rights to their name and likeness, and guaranteed medical expenses.
An advocate of college athletes' rights, founder and president of the College Athletes Players Association, and former UCLA linebacker, Ramogi Huma, is helping the players organize their demands and potential withdrawal from sports, ESPN reports. An anonymous staff member told ESPN that the group consists of hundreds of players from several Pac-12 schools. These demands come after the Pac-12 released its conference-only 2020 schedule on Friday which is set to begin next month.