Pac-12 player group threatens to opt out of season, lists demands

In a historic effort to take college athletics to the negotiating table, hundreds of Pac-12 athletes have reportedly threatened to opt out of the 2020 season if a list of demands, outlined in a recent letter from The Players’ Tribune, are not met.

“#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 letter reads.

Early Sunday, Pac-12 student-athletes, including multiple Cal football players, made social media posts with the hashtag #WeAreUnited accompanied by the various calls to action the player group expects.

The list of demands prioritizes racial injustice and transparent safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, with financial benefits for current and future athletes lobbied for as well. Eliminating excessive expenditures, fair market pay and medical expense coverage were also key points of emphasis.

According to ESPN, the Pac-12 or any athletics department within it had not heard from the group prior to the Players’ Tribune letter being released.

“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,” a statement from the Pac-12 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 chooses not to return to competition for health or safety reasons will have their scholarship protected.”

The Pac-12 released revised scheduling information for the 2020 season Friday, with a start date of Sept. 26, and have yet to outline specific COVID-19 safety measures for the proposed season.

Spencer Golanka writes for Bear Bytes. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @sgolanka.

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