A group of Pac-12 football players from multiple schools is threatening to opt out of camps and games this season unless the conference negotiates with them on issues like racial injustice, player safety amid the coronavirus pandemic and more, according to ESPN.
ESPN obtained a text message stating the reports the group aims to “obtain a written contract with the Pac- 12 that legally ensures we are offered the following protections and benefits.” Their list of demands also includes “securing economic rights and fair compensation, protecting all sports and obtaining long-term health insurance.” The biggest issue the group reportedly seeks to address is racial injustice.
The players reportedly will issue a public statement on Monday, and as of Saturday afternoon, the conference hadn’t heard from the group.
“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 conference told ESPN in a statement. “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.”
Players are also concerned about returning to campus for games and practices, while several Pac-12 schools have told most students to take classes online this fall. States like Arizona and California, which are home to half of the conference’s schools, are among those with significant spikes in coronavirus cases.
On Friday, the Pac-12 released its 10-game conference-only schedule for the 2020 football season. Training camps will start as early as August 17, and all cases are subject to allowance by public health orders and medical advice. The regular season opens on Sept. 26 and will conclude with a conference championship game on either Dec. 18 or 19. The championship matchup will be held in a home-hosted model instead of in Las Vegas.