A considerable amount of Oregon’s top players have joined the ‘PAC-12 Football Unity’ movement, a player-led group that seeks to install better health and safety protocols, create racial justice programs within the conference, and to establish monetary compensation for college athletes.
The group published their list of demands on Sunday on theplayerstribune.com in an article titled ‘#WeAreUnited’.
Oregon’s most vocal advocate has been star nickel safety Jevon Holland, who has been active on social media in his support of #WeAreUnited. Holland is one of a handful of player representatives from the PAC-12 that have emerged as leaders of the cause: Jaydon Grant (OSU), Treyjohn Butler (STANFORD) Elisha Guidry (UCLA) Malik Hausman (UA) Dallas Hobbs (WSU) Cody Shear (ASU) Ty Jones (Uw), Joe Tyron (Uw), Jake Curhan (CAL), Valentino Daltaso (CAL), and Joshua Drayden (CAL).
“We’re not your entertainment, we’re human beings,” said Holland in his interview with Sports Illustrated. “Just like you would help your family, we want to help our mother, father, grandmother, everyone.
“We don’t know the long-term risks. We have no idea how it’s going to affect our body regardless if we show symptoms or not. I refuse to put my health at risk for somebody else’s benefit.”
The list of Oregon players who have either shared the #WeAreUnited message, or have publicly supported the ‘PAC-12 Football Unity’ cause is a long one, and includes standout players like Penei Sewell, Thomas Graham Jr., Johnny Johnson III, Jordon Scott, Nick Pickett, Steven Jones, Cyrus Habibi-Likio and many, many more.
Amid the call for reform, it’s been good to see that these same players have praised coach Mario Cristoball’s handling of both social justice issues and the threats of the pandemic. Cristobal has yet to announce an official stance on the movement, which has the potential to change the collegiate structure drastically if all needs are met (considering one of the demands is a 50 percent share of revenue, which would undoubtedly shake the foundation of the current system), but has not adamantly come out against it; unlike Washington State’s new coach Nick Rolovich.
#WeAreUnited. We want to play football safely. Here at Oregon, @coach_cristobal and our coaches, medical/training staff have done a phenomenal job. Other schools should emulate our protocols and #BeLikeOregon.— Verone McKinley III (@vmckinley3) August 2, 2020
The potential 2020 season has been changed and planned without the voice of the players, the players who are putting their health and futures at risk. It’s a well-known secret how much money athletic programs have to lose should the season be cancelled, and the ‘PAC-12 Football Unity’ group is a cry for help before this potentially dangerous season is underway.
Many of the group’s demands are already being discussed or worked on, like the right to profit on name and likeness and the protection of scholarship spots for those who sit out; others are widely agreed upon by fans (looking at you, Money-Bags Larry Scott), and some of the more radical ideas, like the payment of players and the reduction of spending on non-players, could end up being negotiating tactics.
Our Ducks have made it clear what they need, and while the idea of paying collegiate athletes is an automatic no-go for many fans, it is important to fully examine what we are asking these players to do during a global pandemic.
If we don’t support our men in green and yellow during these dark days, do we deserve to share in their glory on game day? After years of praising players like Jordon Scott and Penei Sewell, will we turn on them for demanding some protection against a real threat that has killed over 150,000 Americans?
If the demands are not met, and the players who supports the boycott stay true to their word, then let us rally our support for the Ducks who are leaving and those that are staying. Hopefully this will all result in improved safety conditions for the conference, regardless of the outcome.
(Again, here’s a link to the whole article in the Player’s Tribune)
Pac-12 Football Unity Demands
To Protect and Benefit Both Scholarship and Walk-On Athletes
I. Health & Safety 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