This post was updated Aug. 2 at 8:21 a.m.
The newly announced football season may already be in jeopardy.
In a report published Saturday by ESPN, football players from various Pac-12 schools are threatening a boycott of preseason practices and, if necessary, regular-season games, should the conference leaders not agree to a list of demands.
In a statement and letter obtained by the Daily Bruin on Sunday, the players made those demands public. Among the requests are scholarship-protected opt-outs, player-approved COVID-19 safety guidelines, administrator pay cuts, the preservation of all sports teams, an annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit, guaranteed medical expense coverage, a 50-50 revenue split and more.
While UCLA has yet to consider cutting any programs due to financial concerns caused by the pandemic, Stanford discontinued 11 of its teams earlier this month. The only student-athletes to sign the letter were football players, but they wrote that they stand with all fellow players and their rights as well.
Several of the demands, such as complete name, image and likeness right access, protection of freedom of speech and immediate transfer eligibility, were not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, but were instead economic and freedom equity demands that had been discussed for years beforehand.
One UCLA football player signed the letter, rising redshirt sophomore defensive back Elisha Guidry.
“I love football,” Guidry wrote in the statement. “I love football so much that I am willing to give it up if things are not done right and we are not in a safe environment. Every player that puts on these pads to play this game is a person with their own family, own friends, own passions and own purpose that is greater than football. We want to play the game we love and have given so much of ourselves to, but we want to do it in a safe way.”
The conference released the official football schedule Friday, with 10 games scheduled for each team beginning Sep. 26. While there are two bye weeks built in, a prolonged boycott could lead to the cancelation and postponement of contests.
Pac-12 officials said they have not yet talked directly with this group but are still committed to doing what they feel is best for the student-athletes.
“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,” a statement from the conference said. “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.”
This news comes after UCLA football players sent a letter to the university listing protocols they wanted in order to return to campus and play in June. The ESPN article said that a number of Bruin players are planning to meet and discuss the group’s demands.
Although there has been no official word on UCLA’s plan for keeping players safe from a COVID-19 outbreak, it is to follow the Pac-12’s guidelines.