Pac-12 Football Players Threaten Season Boycott If Demands Aren’t Met

In another sign of collegiate athletes, especially in the high revenue sports of football and basketball, wielding their collective power, a group of Pac-12 football players released a letter over the weekend saying that they won’t play this fall unless certain demands are met.

Among those demands are both health protections during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as well as Name, Image, Likeness reform, demands for social justice, and financial reform.

The letter, which is signed simply by “Pac-12 Football Players” without any names or scale of how many approved the text, utilizes the #WeAreUnited hashtag. While no names are signed to the list, some football players have identified themselves as supporting the movement on social media.

One of those players identified is Washington State wide receiver Kassidy Woods, who was told by his coach Nick Rolovich that associating with the Pac-12 Football Players group would create “an issue” with the program. Specifically, he was told that if he was opting out of the 2020 season because of health concerns, that he would not be allowed to continue working out with the team, though he remains on scholarship.

The program has reportedly told players that if they opt out of the season due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, they would not be allowed to workout with the team. Players who align with the #WeAreUnited movement but who have not opted out of the season are still being allowed to work out with the team.

“#WeAreUnited in our commitment to secure fair treatment for college athletes,” the letter lists as the consequence of the conference failing to meet demands. “Due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns, we will opt-out of Pac-12 fall camp and game participation unless the following demands are guaranteed in writing by our conference to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons.”

The demands for financial reform are the ones that will most directly impact swimming & diving and water polo. Specifically, the players have asked that the Pac-12 Conference “preserve all existing sports by eliminating excessive expenditures.” This includes asking Stanford directly to tap into its $27.7 billion institutional endowment

From the letter:

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

  2. End performance/academic bonuses.

  3. 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.

Larry Scott earned $5.3 million in fiscal year 2018, a year where conference revenues fell. He took a 20% pay cut for the final 3 months of fiscal year 2020 to help the conference deal with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pac-12 head football coaches’ salaries in 2019 ranged from $1.9 million earned by Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith up to $4.63 million earned by Washington’s Chris Petersen. Many of those coaches have taken pay cuts as part of their schools’ plans to mitigate losses from the economic impact of coronavirus.

This demand is particularly noteworthy in that football is responsible for the largest share of expenditures in most Power 5 athletics departments, and this demand implies that some players don’t see that spending as being of greatest value to them.

COVID-19 Protections

The letter also asks that athletes be allowed the option to “opt not to play during the pandemic without losing athletics eligibility or spot on our team’s roster,” and to prohibit or void any COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.

“Because we are being asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities, #WeAreUnited.”

Economic Benefits to Athletes

The athletes have also asked for guaranteed medical expense coverage, including for 6 years after college athletics ends; the right to secure representation to earn money and receive basic necessities for the use of their name, image, and likeness; and for the conference to distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.

The Pac-12 reported $530.4 million in revenue for fiscal year 2019.

They’ve also requested the right for one free transfer per student-athlete, and the right to test the waters of a professional draft and return to college, and 6-year athletic scholarships to cover undergraduate and graduate degree completion.

Racial Justice Demands

Echoing an earlier letter signed by a group of University of Texas student-athletes, the Pac-12 Football Players have asked the Pac-12 to help “end racial injustice in college sports and society.”

Specifically, they want a permanent civic-engagement task force that includes student-athletes leaders and experts of the student-athletes’ choosing.

They have also asked that a further 2% of conference revenue be “directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.” That would amount to approximately $10 million per year under the current conference revenues.

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SCCOACH
1 year ago

Lawyer up kids

Anon
1 year ago

I am very impressed with this. Good on them for speaking up for everyone, not just themselves and trying to help people less fortunate then them as well as other less popular sports even at some of their own benefits. Only I think is a bit out of reach is distribution of part of profits to players. That will simply never happen.

Tomek
Reply to  Anon
1 year ago

which of the “their own benefits” are you referring to?

sscommentor
1 year ago

burn the system down, pay the players

Eisenheim
Reply to  sscommentor
1 year ago

This is the comment of the day yet I’m not surprised by all the down votes

sscommentor
Reply to  Eisenheim
1 year ago

guess weren’t as big a fan of HBO’s Ballers season 4, like myself

Justin Thompson
Reply to  sscommentor
1 year ago

If you burn the system down it may go away for a while and take years to get back where it left off in 2019. If they think they had it bad before, go ahead and burn it down and see what that looks like.

Masters swimmer
1 year ago

While I certainly don’t profess to understand college athletics, my initial reaction is “good for the athletes to stand up to the NCAA.” Many of the requests are definitely smart, such as tapping endowments to fund sports, ending ridiculous salaries for coaches and administrators, and doing away with 5-star resort facility expenditures. I also like putting away a minor 2% of revenue to help low income black students, extending scholarships to 6 years, and extending health benefits for athletes.

NCAA feels like a corrupted, bloated, bureaucracy that does exploit student athletes. Kudos for this group shining a light on it. I wish them success.

jvog88
Reply to  Masters swimmer
1 year ago

Surprised at all the downvotes here on a site like SwimSwam. Pretty reasonable, inoffensive comment, unless you’re an NCAA admin type who is trying to save your overpaid, bloated azzcheeks.

Justin Thompson
Reply to  Masters swimmer
1 year ago

Coaches salaries and the lavish facilities were all viewed as ways to distinguish a program to attract top recruits and make it more profitable. If all programs are the same with lower grade facilities, it may be harder to attract top recruits which then could impact the success of the program and its profits.
I know people won’t like hearing this, but if you are giving away benefits like 6 years of health insurance the money has to come from somewhere.

Vanilla Gorilla
Reply to  Masters swimmer
1 year ago

I think the power 5 are going to break away from the NCAA at some point in the not too distant future. SI had a good article on that this past weekend. From an athletic standpoint the P5 operates at a whole other scale from the other members and the incentives don’t appear to be in place for them to remain.

https://www.si.com/college/2020/08/02/ncaa-doubts-survive-explosive-weekend-power-5-breakaway

Tomek
1 year ago

So everyone for themselves…”the conference to distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.” The athletes are trying to force universities to keep all teams but they do not want share football/basketball revenues with non-respective sports? Do I understand this correctly?

gator
1 year ago

#1. Keep kids safe.
#2. Many many many more deserving (and unselfish) athletes in line for these opportunities.
#3. PAC12 should act swiftly and decisively now for the best outcome (for #1 and #2).

Brian M
1 year ago

I hate to be the adult in the room, but here goes:

1. Stanford can’t tap endowment money (like all college endowments), those are restricted funds and they can only use something like 5% per year (which is already spoken for).
2. $530MM in revenue, is gross before expenses and distributions to schools. Almost $400MM of that money went back to the member schools, and the rest went to cover the expenses of the conference. Maybe these athletes can have a firmer grasp of accounting and how much it costs to run a conference as large as the PAC-12 before acting like there is just unlimited funds available to throw around.

Are college athletics fair? Absolutely not it’s just… Read more »

Westofdetroit
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

Yeah the endowment thing is wild, because by taking that money and starting to spend it on athletics you’re playing a dangerous shell game. Because, by cutting into that endowment, you’re actually reducing the opportunities for low income students to go to those schools.

I think the system can be improved, and things could be made better. However, if these demands are met, quite simply this is the end of college athletics. People aren’t going to spend what they spend to support what would essentially become a minor league program. That’s not why people watch – because it’s just such an immensely high quality of competition and they can’t look away. They watch because they like the idea that these… Read more »

Masters swimmer
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

Brian, Thanks for the insightful comments. What do you think are positive changes called for in the letter that can be actually be made? Great point you made about endowments.

SRS
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

Brian better be careful. In todays world some people would have you locked up for using facts and intelligence.

jvog88
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

Maybe rather than throwing up our arms in defeat, saying that schools can’t touch > 5% endowment money or stating things in terms of “we can’t do this because of accounting reasons, cost of running a conference, etc.” (feels similar to common excuses made by CEOs/execs for concentrating wealth disproportionately at the top of a company while simultaneously cutting employees), we should recognize this moment as prime-time for changing such policies and focus instead on the opportunity for positive change, rather than just saying “that’s the way it is” or “life is unfair”.

Perhaps I’m overly idealistic, but endowment funds should be intended exactly for extreme circumstances like helping a school retain itself through a pandemic like Covid. If a… Read more »

LOL
Reply to  jvog88
1 year ago

Endowments are legally bound for only the purpose designated by the donor. Someone “gifts” money to a university for a purpose where they see a need. It is NOT a bank account for the university to spend as it wishes in good or difficult times. For example, I might endow a scholarship for a first generation college student who is Native American or I may wish to endow a building and the funds to keep it’s grounds in the memory of a family member who taught or learned there, but these funds cannot be used for any other purpose without a withdrawal of their existence from the university.

jvog88
Reply to  LOL
1 year ago

Perfect opportunity to touch base with endowment donors to see if that’s still their wish – “The following programs (list of academic, athletic, and others) are in need of help to survive…are you sure you still want your funds to endow building X, go towards a football stadium upgrade, etc. or would you consider redistribution of your funds to save a program in need?”

Again, looking for positive change/solutions rather than serving a broken system, giving up / saying “oh sorry, this is where a rich person wanted money to go to years ago. No need to check back in with them on their intent.”

Maverick
Reply to  jvog88
1 year ago

@JVog88 I’m not sure why CEO’s/Execs are bad people if they lay off employees to cut costs. Not sure if you’ve ever read about those positions… But they normally answer to the shareholders who mostly care about profitability.. So of course they are going to try and cut costs where they can.

To the endowment— Essentially youre wanting them to start a sales team to call up donors and say hey we need money for X even though youre wanting to spend for Y. There’d be no reason to stop at donors and just call up anyone in the country at that point. When I currently donate money to my University, I would much rather it go towards the… Read more »

The Importer AND Exporter
1 year ago

“Because we should be included in equitably sharing the revenue our talents generate, especially in a pandemic, #WeAreUnited.”

So how are swimmers supposed to cover their portion of the money their programs don’t make?

The Importer AND Exporter
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

You got it – especially because lots of schools don’t even make money from basketball and football.

We went to one meet at an SEC school and admission was free and they gave out free chil fil a and t-shirts. Not a whole lot of revenue to share.

Interesting stuff in here: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/finances-intercollegiate-athletics#:~:text=The%20total%20revenue%20generated%20among,43%25%20of%20the%20total%20spending.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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