After the University of Oregon, and the rest of the Pac-12, released their condensed 2020 football schedule, players across the conference are raising their concerns. A multischool coalition of college football players are threatening to boycott the season if health and safety protocols are not met, as well as having the league address concerns about fighting racial injustice, according to ESPN.
Players from Oregon, UCLA, Cal and Stanford are at the forefront of the movement. The group plans to release a statement of unity as early as Sunday. However, Pac-12 officials claim to not have heard from the players.
“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 communication with our student athletes at many different levels on a range of topics,” the Pac-12 told ESPN.
While other professional sports leagues, like the NBA, have been able to return to play by using a “bubble,” college sports do not have that luxury. With different campuses, and states, having different coronavirus policies, it is a challenge to have a unified or coherent return to play policy.
Another major problem confronting the league is that Cal, USC and UCLA are not fully reopening their campuses in the fall due to coronavirus. California and Arizona, in particular, have faced surging coronavirus cases in recent weeks, forcing large parts of those states to shut down certain areas. While at the same time, these universities are bringing student athletes back to campus in order to prepare for the upcoming season.
Across the professional sports landscape, athletes have shown their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. In the NBA, player jerseys have been customized with statements about racial equality. Major league soccer players have also shown their support for the movement by kneeling for the national anthem. It remains to be seen how the Pac-12 will allow players to express themselves. If there is a college football season this year, many Pac-12 players will be interested in showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Despite the boycott, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott voiced that there is a good chance that the 2020 Pac-12 season may not happen.
“We recognize that the best laid plans may not come to fruition,” Scott said.