Tensions continue to rise as Pac-12 player group demands changes
The Pac-12 players of the “#WeAreUnited” movement spoke with the Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott, on Aug. 6 and were left “disappointed and deeply concerned.”
The group of players sent a letter to Scott on Aug. 7 claiming that the conference is doing a poor job of addressing their concerns about the upcoming football season. The letter was signed off by 14 Pac-12 football players on behalf of over 400 Pac-12 football players. Among the 14 signatures was University of Arizona defensive back Malik Hausman, who is one of three Wildcat players to opt out of the 2020 football season.
“In no uncertain terms, this is a matter of life or death for student-athletes during these difficult times,” the letter said.
The group claimed that Scott refused the players from receiving daily testing during the season, with Scott saying that necessary tests were unavailable and that it would be impossible to mandate testing and best practice COVID-19 precautions conference wide, according to the letter. They also claimed that Scott was not allowing the players group to have legal representation attend these meetings to assist them with their legal rights.
“Although we understand the NCAA’s official position to be that COVID related liability waivers are not permitted, we have received no such confirmation in writing from the Pac-12,” the letter said. “We are in fact aware of Pac-12 institutions that are seemingly still utilizing what can only be described as COVID liability waivers.”
The group of players also said in the letter that it was "absurd, offensive, and deadly" to expect student-athletes to play this season without specific health and safety plans.
#WeAreUnited is also worried about the lack of communication from the conference officials to its student-athletes as well as its overall readiness regarding the upcoming football season — and for good reason. In a webinar on July 31, hosted by the Pac-12, in which the conference laid out its football schedule and COVID-19 precautions, Scott was asked about his overall confidence in having a football season this year.
“I don’t know,” Scott said. “We are all trying to take a step at a time. We are cautiously optimistic as we sit here today.”
Not exactly the answer you would want to hear from the Pac-12 commissioner, right? The group of players certainly thought so.
“It is baffling to hear that health and safety mandates will not exist in the Pac-12,” the group said in the letter. “Your response to our concerns … is not an acceptable answer and proves there are severe inconsistencies in the Pac-12’s standards and its commitment to protecting college athletes under its watch.”
The letter also demanded the conference to intervene in Washington State’s recent dismissals of players Dallas Hobbs and Kassidy Woods who were cut from the Cougars’ football team after speaking up about their concerns on behalf of #WeAreUnited.
“[Hobbs and Woods] are leaders within their community and co-founders of the Washington State Black Student Athlete Association,” the letter said. “When we raised our concerns about this retaliation during our meeting, you told us the Pac-12 would not intervene in this manner. This is hypocritical towards everything we believe the Pac-12 stands for.”
Arizona is scheduled to begin its season against ASU on Sept. 26 as questions continue to surround the Pac-12.
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