The players of the Pac-12 conference are uniting to force the NCAA to recognize their concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice.
The move is significant because it is an open stand by student-athletes against the system that both educates them and prepares them for a potential professional athletic career.
Amid COVID-19, players have real concerns when it comes to playing sports and they recognize the value they bring to the university. Their demands aren’t even egregious; they are basic human rights concerns.
Trying to have a nuanced discussion about the Pac-12 player demands on twitter. pic.twitter.com/q9TKFt58sm
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) August 2, 2020
Their initial premise: to ensure future generations of college athletes will be treated fairly. The consortium believes that NCAA sports exploit college athletes physically, economically and academically, and also disproportionately harm Black college athletes.
They feel that the NCAA’s “claim” that #BlackLivesMatter is contradictory to its systematic exploitation of Black athletes nationwide.
Because we are being asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities, #WeAreUnited.
— Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan) August 2, 2020
The athletes want adequate COVID testing to help protect their health. They also feel prohibited from securing representation while being asked to sign documents that may serve as liability waivers.
They do not want to be stuck with sports-related medical expenses, including COVID-19 related expenses, and expect any player who does not feel comfortable playing this season, should be free to opt out without losing their scholarship or any eligibility.
Show Me The Money
They have deemed certain NCAA rules “immoral”, such as receiving basic necessities or compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses. However, many of the student-athletes complain about their families suffering economically from the COVID-19 fallout.
Inclusion in equitably sharing the revenue from gameplay is a major concern especially during the pandemic.
— TJ Eckert (@TJEckertKTUL) August 2, 2020
With rules they feel are unjust preventing 98% of college football and basketball players who won’t go pro from capitalizing economically on what would otherwise be the most valuable years of our lives. This included many Black players from low-income homes.
They call for eliminating lavish salaries and facility expenditures to preserve all sports as a priority, saying that the NCAA has failed them. The group is prepared to ensure that the Pac-12 conference treats them fairly whether or not it continues its NCAA membership.
Pac-12 Football Unity Demands
To Protect and Benefit Both Scholarship and Walk-On Athletes
I. Health & Safety Protections
- Allow option not to play during the pandemic without losing athletics eligibility or spot on our team’s roster.
- Prohibit/void COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.
Mandatory Safety Standards, Including COVID-19 Measures
- Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19, as well as serious injury, abuse and death.
II. Protect All Sports
Preserve All Existing Sports by Eliminating Excessive Expenditures
- 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.*
*As an example, Stanford University should reinstate all sports discontinued by tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment.
III. End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society
- 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.
- In partnership with the Pac-12, 2% 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.
- Form annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit with guaranteed representation of at least three athletes of our choice from every school.
IV. Economic Freedom and Equity
Guaranteed Medical Expense Coverage
- Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.
Name, Image, and Likeness Rights & Representation
- The freedom to secure representation, receive basic necessities from any third party, and earn money for use of our name, image, and likeness rights.
Fair Market Pay, Rights, & Freedoms
- Distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.
- Six-year athletic scholarships to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion.
- Elimination of all policies and practices restricting or deterring our freedom of speech, our ability to fully participate in charitable work, and our freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation.
- Ability of players of all sports to transfer one time without punishment, and additionally in cases of abuse or serious negligence.
- Ability to complete eligibility after participating in a pro draft if player goes un-drafted and foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.
- Due process rights
The group is forming alliances with college athletes from other conferences to unite for a universal change.
#WeAreUnited is a rallying hashtag commitment to secure fair treatment for college athletes. Due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns, the threat of an opting out of the Pac-12 fall camp and game participation is imminent.
Unless the following demands are guaranteed in writing by the Pac-12 conference to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons, the NCAA will have an irreconcilable reckoning.