The Pac-12 football players behind the #WeAreUnited group met with conference commissioner Larry Scott on Thursday night and came away from the meeting “disappointed and deeply concerned” and “discouraged by the tone, tenor and general unpreparedness of Pac-12 leadership.”
In a letter signed by 18 Pac-12 players and sent to Scott on Friday night, the group said their interaction with Scott made them feel that the commissioner is “not taking this matter seriously.”
The players laid out an array of issues they want the conference to address, focusing specifically on health and safety issues of playing football amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an article posted on The Players Tribune on Aug. 2. The players, who have threatened to sit out, expressed particular discontent with Scott’s response to their wishes for COVID-19 testing during their Aug. 6 meeting.
“You informed us that there cannot be daily testing, nor could there be regular testing since you claimed necessary tests were ‘unavailable’ and that it would be ‘impossible’ to mandate testing and best practice COVID precautions conference-wide,” the players wrote in the letter to Scott.
Later in the letter they said, “You are asking student-athletes who are unpaid but deeply committed to their respective sport and institutions to risk their lives without a plan.”
Reports: Scott calls player effort a ‘PR stunt’
According to ESPN and the New York Times, Scott, at one point during their meeting, characterized the players’ unity demands as a “PR stunt.” Per the Times, the players on the call described Scott as “often condescending, unprepared and unwilling to meet with them again.”
In the letter to Scott, the players said the commissioner at one point said they should “just opt out and go home” if they feel unsafe.
Scott also reportedly shot down the group’s hope to have legal representation present during meetings with the conference.
Pac-12 to answer players on COVID-19 testing soon
Earlier Friday, Scott sent a letter to the player group in which he said questions about testing protocols would be answered by the Pac-12’s medical advisory committee “in the very near future.”
“We will work with the committee to ensure that you have an opportunity to speak with them about your concerns, as it is more appropriate for the medical experts to answer questions of health and safety pertaining to COVID-19,” Scott’s letter said.
In Scott’s letter, he also tried to assure the athletes that some of their other concerns are being addressed, both by NCAA and conference mandates. Scott said the conference office is “fully committed” to reviewing whether or not schools have issued liability waivers to athletes.
“If the conference office discovers that an institution has issued a waiver of this nature to student-athletes, it will work closely with said institution to confirm that such a document is unenforceable per the recent directive of the NCAA Board of Governors,” Scott said.
Scott also made it clear that players who opt out with health and safety concerns will have their scholarships honored and will “remain in good standing” with their team.
In the Players Tribune piece, the players also called for the Pac-12 to address racial injustices in college sports, expand medical coverage and pushed for a share of the conference’s revenue. Similar efforts have popped up from players in the Big Ten and the Mountain West, focusing predominantly on health and safety issues.
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