Hours after receiving a response from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott that indicated he was eager to hear more about their concerns and would find a convenient time to speak later this week, leaders from the Pac-12’s #WeAreUnited campaign responded late Monday night asking for more immediate action.
“While we appreciate the response, we are looking to move on a faster timeline than you have proposed,” an email approved by the group’s leadership, and obtained by ESPN, said. “We are two weeks from fall camp and would like to work to come to a resolution so that we can play this season. Every day that we don’t have discussions puts players at additional risk of COVID.”
Scott’s letter came in response to both a Players’ Tribune article and an email directed to him and the conference’s athletic directors, on behalf of hundreds of Pac-12 football players, that outlined concern over the risks of COVID-19 in current conditions on campuses and how those conditions are related to “to the systemic racial injustices imposed by NCAA sports that disproportionately exploits Black athletes physically, academically, and financially.”
Players have threatened to opt out of fall camp and from playing games unless their demands for fair treatment, safety regulations and concerns over racial justice for college athletes are met by the conference.
In a letter to Scott and the Pac-12 athletic directors dated Aug. 2, and obtained by ESPN, the group asked for daily video meetings with Scott, the athletic directors and the player representatives to begin Monday at 8 p.m. PT, but that meeting was not granted.
In Scott’s response, which was sent at just after 4 p.m. PT Monday and first published by Sports Illustrated, he said the conference is reviewing the group’s concerns and would be discussing them with its members over the next couple of days. He highlighted four sections — Student-Athlete Health & Safety/COVID-19, Social Justice & Anti-Racism, NIL/Economic Opportunity, Student-Athlete Health & Well-Being — to provide additional background information on, but offered no additional action from steps that had previously been taken.
“Specific to health and safety, the health and well-being of student-athletes is our No. 1 priority, and for this reason we have made clear on July 10 that any student-athlete who chooses not to return to competition for health or safety reasons will have their scholarship protected and will remain in good standing with their team,” Scott said. “We support any student-athlete who chooses to opt out for health and safety reasons.”
A Pac-12 spokesman did not reply to an email sent Monday morning asking if a player’s scholarship would be safe if they opted out of team activities simply as part of the #WeAreUnited campaign.
Scott’s response did not address several demands listed in the Players’ Tribune article, including a call for a drastic reduction of Scott’s salary, which has been reported to be more than $5 million annually, and the distribution of 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.