Pac-12 athletes threaten to walk out on season

Posted at 4:08 PM, Aug 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-02 19:24:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Pac-12 Conference student athletes is threatening to boycott the upcoming athletic season if conference leadership does not meet certain demands.

A letter authored by "Players of the Pac-12" and posted on The Players’ Tribune website lists 15 reasons for the group’s four sets of demands.

Those demands range from increased health and safety protocols to monetary compensation for student athletes.

One demand calls for Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, school administrators and coaches to take pay cuts to prevent sports from being dropped during the current economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Another demand calls for players to receive 50 percent of conference revenues in their respective sports.

According to financial documents released by the conference in July, the Pac-12 took in more than $500 million in the 2018-2019 athletic season.

The letter does not name any individual athletes who support the demands or who are willing to boycott the season.

Several members of the University of Utah football team retweeted the page with the #WeAreUnited hashtag.

Ute offensive lineman Nick Ford indicated his support with his own letter on Twitter:

“I just want safety for me, my brothers, my brothers on other teams... and coaches alike. We are not just a football team and entertainment," he wrote.

Ford later tweeted his support for the team and Coach Kyle Whittingham for doing "a great job keeping track of our health."

The Pac-12 responded to a request for a comment with this statement:

“Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics. We support our student-athletes using their voice, and have regular communications with our student-athletes at many different levels on a range of topics. As we have clearly stated with respect to our fall competition plans, we are, and always will be, directed by medical experts, with the health, safety and well being of our student athletes, coaches and staff always the first priority. We have made it clear that any student athlete who chooses not to return to competition for health or safety reasons will have their scholarship protected.”

When asked for a comment, The University of Utah athletic department directed FOX 13 to the Pac-12's statement.

According to the letter on The Players’ Tribune website, the group will opt out of fall camp and game participation if the demands are not guaranteed in writing.