With no group or union to protect college football players, they have to protect themselves. Some Pac-12 football players reportedly are doing just that.
According to ESPN.com, a group from multiple Pac-12 schools have threatened to sit out preseason camp and 2020 games until negotiations with the conference regarding racial injustice, COVID-19 safety, and other issues are completed.
In a text message obtained by ESPN.com, the group says that its goal is to “obtain a written contract with the Pac-12 that legally ensures we are offered the following protections and benefits.”
The conference’ position on this news is to say, essentially, “This is news to us.”
“Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “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. 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.”
With those scholarships protected even if players choose not to play, it will be interesting to see how many Pac-12 players choose to sit this season out.
The Pac-12 adopted on Friday a 10-game, conference-only football season, which begins on September 26. The conference championship game will be held on a team’s campus, and not at the new NFL stadium in Las Vegas.