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Pac-12 players unite in demanding equality

Football players from across the conference came together in asking the conference for change.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 11 Pac-12 Tournament - Utah v Oregon State Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Several football players from the Pac-12 took to the Players Tribune to pen an op-ed speaking out on unfair treatment and exploitation by the conference and NCAA prior to the projected 2020 season.

Fair representation, expanded health benefits, non-disenfranchisement, revenue sharing, and overall safety were among the list of demands presented. The message was clear: “To ensure future generations of college athletes will be treated fairly, #WeAreUnited.”

The group of twelve players from nine Pac-12 institutions calls the NCAA’s notion of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to be inadequate and believes the latest steps in return to the playing field in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic further exploits African-American athletes.

A specific number of changes were presented by the group and one in particular focused on a redistribution of the conference’s wealth accumulation. Under section II of their demands, the players called for a reduction of salaries for Pac-12 decision makers, including commissioner Larry Scott. They also recommended Stanford tap into the $27.7 billion endowment to reinstate recently discontinued sports programs due to funding concerns.

Scott’s annual salary increased above the $5 million mark in recent years. His current base salary is $5.3 million which is second-most among Power Five conference commissioners behind the Big Ten’s Jim Delany at $5.5 million.

Here are the demands of the Pac-12 players in full (24 total) from the Players Tribune.

I. Health & Safety Protections

COVID-19 Protections

Allow option not to play during the pandemic without losing athletics eligibility or spot on our team’s roster.

Prohibit/void COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.

Mandatory Safety Standards, Including COVID-19 Measures

Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19, as well as serious injury, abuse and death.

II. Protect All Sports

Preserve All Existing Sports by Eliminating Excessive Expenditures

Larry Scott, administrators, and coaches to voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay.

End performance/academic bonuses.

End lavish facility expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports.*

*As an example, Stanford University should reinstate all sports discontinued by tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment.

III. End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society

Form a permanent civic-engagement task force made up of our leaders, experts of our choice, and university and conference administrators to address outstanding issues such as racial injustice in college sports and in society.

In partnership with the Pac-12, 2% of conference revenue would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.

Form annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit with guaranteed representation of at least three athletes of our choice from every school.

IV. Economic Freedom and Equity

Guaranteed Medical Expense Coverage

Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.

Name, Image, and Likeness Rights & Representation

The freedom to secure representation, receive basic necessities from any third party, and earn money for use of our name, image, and likeness rights.

Fair Market Pay, Rights, & Freedoms

Distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.

Six-year athletic scholarships to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion.

Elimination of all policies and practices restricting or deterring our freedom of speech, our ability to fully participate in charitable work, and our freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation.

Ability of players of all sports to transfer one time without punishment, and additionally in cases of abuse or serious negligence.

Ability to complete eligibility after participating in a pro draft if player goes undrafted and foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.

Due process rights

Signed, Pac-12 Players

Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Mark Perry stands behind his fellow conference mates. Although he didn’t help write the statement for the Tribune, Perry was aware a collective message was forthcoming.

“I’ve been hearing about players uniting for the past couple weeks and I agree with everything they are saying,” Perry said. “Plenty of universities aren’t taking the right steps and are trying to rush us onto a practice field. When the only thing they have to say is “No one your age has died from Covid-19,” but everyone handled the virus differently. I’m glad people are using their voices because everyone just thinks “Oh, they don’t want to play,” but that’s not the case. You have several players from the reigning Pac-12 championship team, Oregon, opting out and their coaches support them in all they’re doing. Then you have other schools (i.e... Washington State) whose coaches are bashing players for opting out.”

The call for equality comes days after the Pac-12 released a finalized conference-only schedule with the football season starting Saturday, Sept. 26.