A group of Pac-12 football players, including players from Oregon, are organizing and threatening to opt out of the 2020 college football season unless the conference meets their demands in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice movements in the United States, ESPN's Adam Rittenberg and Mark Schlabach report.
Among their demands are "safe play amid the pandemic, fighting racial injustice, securing economic rights and fair compensation, protecting all sports and obtaining long-term health insurance."
The chief concern for the players is reportedly fighting racial injustice.
Earlier this summer, Ducks safety Jevon Holland lead the charge to rename Deady Hall at the University of Oregon, which was named after Matthew Deady, who was in favor of slavery in Oregon and was quoted saying Black people are just as much property as "horses, cattle and land."
The group consists of players from multiple Pac-12 schools such as Cal, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and more. The group is speculated to be potentially hundreds of players one Pac-12 staff member told ESPN.
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The players also want non-student-athletes to not be brought back to campus and instead take classes online.
That desire isn't unique to the Pac-12. Ole Miss linebacker MoMo Sanogo asked SEC officials in a conference call this week why students are being brought back and was told that if students don't return then the chances of a college football season are "close to zero."
The SEC officials also told its players that the spread of COVID-19 would occur because of non-student-athletes coming onto campus rather than football games being played.
When Sanogo asked about the SEC creating a bubble he was told that his mask would protect him, that he could be a role model for others, and "to sit at the back of classrooms and not engage in close conversations," the Washington Post reported.
On Sunday, Pac-12 Football Unity, a conference-wide group of players, issued a "statement of unity" via the The Players Tribune demanding the conference take steps "to protect and benefit both scholarship and walk-on athletes."
"NCAA sports has truly failed us, it doesn't enforce any health and safety standards," the release says. "We believe a football season under these conditions would be reckless and put us at needless risk. We will not play until there is real change that is acceptable to us."
Prior to the release of the statement, the Pac-12 wrote: "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."
On Friday, the Pac-12 unveiled a new, ten-game, conference only schedule for each team that will begin on September 26.
In an appearance on Fox's Big Noon Kickoff earlier this week, Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal hinted that the Ducks haven't had a positive test yet for the coronavirus.
"We've been here now a total of seven and a half, coming up on eight weeks and our processes have been flawless. We don't publicly put our results out there but I think the best way to say [it] is that we have been flawless in our processes and our results."
As for those processes in place to keep the student-athletes of Oregon safe, Cristobal said he "can't imagine anyone having anything better out there but we're always researching. We're always digging. We're always looking for information good and bad out there. Anything that can affect us in a positive way. Anything that can help us enhance our processes."
Earlier this summer, Stanford cut 11 varsity sports from its athletic department due to the pandemic.
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Oregon Ducks, Pac-12 players threatening to opt out of 2020 CFB season originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest