Pac-12 players, including from Cal and Stanford, threaten to opt out of football season
BERKELEY, Calif. - A group of Pac-12 football players from multiple schools, including UC Berkeley and Stanford University, are reportedly threatening to opt out of this year's football season.
Some of it has to do with concerns about health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But there are other issues – about financial compensation for athletes, and racial and social justice.
A group of 13 football players who say they are speaking on behalf of "hundreds of other players in the Pac-12," published a letter this weekend, under the heading, "#We are united."
The letter says that players will opt out of fall practice and the season unless their list of demands is met by the Pac-12 in writing.
Top of the list of demands are: health and safety protections against COVID-19, including allowing players to opt-out of this season without losing their eligibility or scholarships.
But they also call on the league to provide long-term health insurance for players, six years after they graduate.
The players writing this letter also call on the Pac-12 to take steps towards racial and financial equity, including directing 2 percent of revenue from the league, to financial aid for low-income students.
And reducing administrators and coaches' pay to better support student-athletes.
But at least one Washington state football player who supports the "We are united" campaign claims he's already been cut from the team for speaking out in support of the demands.
"We do have a list of demands but our primary focus is health and safety and retaining of eligibility for players," said Kassidy Woods. "He preceded to tell me, my head coach, it's one thing to say you are opting out for COVID but being apart of this Pac-12 unity movement, that a different thing. And he said you have to have your locker cleaned out by Monday."
In response, the Pac 12, sent a statement to ESPN explaining that they have seen this letter, but they haven't heard from any of the football players, directly.
The Pac-12 says that it is heeding the advice of health officials when it comes to the upcoming season.
They also added any student who decides to opt out of playing this year for health concerns, will have their scholarship protected.