Pac-12 Players Release Statement After Conference Postpones Fall Football Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2020

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2019, file photo, the Pac-12 logo is displayed on the field at Sun Devil Stadium during an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State in Tempe, Ariz. As the wealthiest conferences  like the Pac-12 lay out plans they hope will protect athletes from contracting and spreading COVID-19, most of the schools in the second-tier of Division I football have given up on trying to play in the fall. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)
Ralph Freso/Associated Press

Some Pac-12 athletes released a statement Tuesday in the wake of the conference postponing the fall sports schedule, calling out the conference for "haphazardly trying to place the health of college athletes in jeopardy by having a season without safety mandates" and postponing the season "with no transparency and no communication with the college athletes impacted."

The players also called for the formation of a players' association and said the conference "was more concerned with stifling our ability to organize and in protecting the institution of exploiting college athletes than protecting our safety."

You can see the full statement below:

The Pac-12 will attempt to bring sports back in 2021 if "conditions improve," which could mean football will return in the spring.

"The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. "Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is."

The Big Ten also postponed its fall sports calendar Tuesday. 

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There have long been calls for college athletes to unionize, though it either hasn't materialized on a large scale or the efforts that have gained traction have been shot down. But the Pac-12 athletes clearly feel as though their best interests aren't being properly represented in any dealings with the conference:

"Throughout our dealings with Pac-12 leadership, the rights of college athletes were not taken seriously by conference leadership. When we raised concerns over the lack of enforceable health and safety mandates in the conference as a prerequisite to a season, we were met with hostility. When we asked for legal representation at our meetings with conference leadership, we were told that would not be permitted. In fact, we never heard back from Commissioner Larry Scott to the letter we sent Friday evening where we again reiterated our request for mandated health protocols. We are left with no confidence in the Pac-12 leadership."

As Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports noted, "The group demanded that the Pac-12 preserve a year of eligibility, provide access to medical treatment, support services and meals for athletes who decide to stay on campus; and that athletic-related activities remain option until conference-wide safety standards are created." 

Those demands were largely met and acknowledged in the Pac-12's statement announcing the fall schedule would be postponed. But it appears a much larger confrontation is brewing in the Pac-12.