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Pac-12 players’ union calls grow stronger after decision to postpone until 2021

The #WeAreUnited movement refuses silences as Pac-12 ends athletic competition for the rest of 2020

California v Stanford Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

It was a tough day for the future of college athletics with the Big Ten and Pac-12 saying there will be “no further action” in 2020. Shortly after the announcements were made by both conferences, people had mixed emotions on how the remaining three Power Five schools might start a college football season in two weeks.

In the wake of Pac-12’s CEO group voting unanimously to postpone the 2020 season to Jan. 2021, the #WeAreUnited unity group released a statement in dissent of the ruling. The calls for a unified player representation grew louder as the group denounced how the conference handled the entire process to move the season into next year.

“It is obvious that the Pac-12 was woefully unprepared to protect college athlete safety in response to COVID-19 and could not address the basic and essential safety demands made by #WeAreUnited,” the group said in the statement, which was critical of the conference’s lack of transparency in making Tuesday’s decision. “The Pac-12’s failures have made it clear that the time for change is now. The system is broken. College athletes deserve and need a real voice in the form of a players association.”

The unity group went back to the list of demands they made prior, detailing how they felt disregarded. Pac-12 officials did respond to the group, but wouldn’t commit to having any continued open dialog to address the issues

“Throughout our dealing with Pac-12 leadership, the rights of college athletes were not taken seriously by Conference leadership,” the statement said. “When we raised concerns over the lack of enforceable health and safety mandates in the conference as a prerequisite to a season, we were met with hostility.”

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott refused to offer help from his office in regards to scholarship promises and remaining eligibility. He said those matters would be taken up with the NCAA and the respective conference schools. As for medical care, meals and academics for athletes, those services will continues as scheduled going into the fall.

At the end of the day, the Pac-12 Medical Board gave clear recommendations about the spread of Covid-19 and how playing sports in the fall would have a negative impact on the general population. A similar statement echoed by the Big Ten.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”