Oregon’s Jordon Scott, a former standout at Pinellas Park, joined a growing contingent of Pac-12 players who are contemplating boycotting the upcoming season unless demands for safety regulations and social injustice are met.
This past weekend, a group of players from the conference wrote a letter addressing their concerns that was published in The Players’ Tribune. To get behind the movement, they urged players throughout college football to use the hashtag #WeAreUnited.
More on #WeAreUnited movement
The Players’ Tribune: #WeAreUnited
New York Times: A group of Pac-12 Football Players Opts Out of the Season
They also sent a release with the names of 13 Pac-12 players from 10 schools, all of whom provided statements about what they perceived as conference shortcomings in handling these issues.
Among the calls for action listed in The Players’ Tribune:
- Allowing players the option not to play without losing their scholarship or spot on the roster.
- Prohibit COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.
- Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19.
- And end to lavish facility spending and reduced pay for conference executives and coaches.
- Form a permanent civic-engagement to address racial injustice and spend two percent of conference revenue directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.
- Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.
- Distribute 50 percent of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.
Scott, considered one of the nation’s best defensive lineman, was not among the players listed in the release. His biggest concern is “if they are going to allow us to keep our scholarship if the season is altered or if players decided to opt out due to health risk.”
This past Friday, the Pac-12 released its revised football schedule that pushes the regular season back to Sept. 26 and includes only 10 conference games.
The conference also announced a new practice schedule that includes 20 hours per week of mandatory team activities for football (weight training, meetings and unpadded walk-through practices) starting on Monday. Preseason practice for Pac-12 schools can begin on Aug. 17.
In the offseason, Scott (photos courtesy of Oregon Athletics) announced he was returning to the Ducks for his senior season rather than declaring for the NFL Draft. He has already been added to watch lists for the Outland and Bronko Nagurski trophies.
So would Scott opt out if his concerns are not addressed?
“Yeah, I think so,” he said.
Each Power Five conference has already committed to either honoring scholarships or allowing individual schools to make that decision for athletes who opt out of playing due to health concerns.
But some Pac-12 athletes are already facing repercussions for supporting #WeAreUnited. Multiple Washington State players were “released” from the program but would still retain their scholarship for this season according to Theo Lawson of The Spokesman Review.
The Pac-12 released a statement this past weekend in response to some of the issues raised by players involved in the #WeAreUnited cause.
“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,” the Pac-12 said in the statement. “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.”
Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter, who starred at Hillsborough, was vocal about raising his own worries in college football, retweeting the #WeAreUnited hashtag that was followed by him saying, “Enough is enough.”
Would Carter join the Pac-12 players who are considering opting out for the season?
“Possibly,” Carter said. “With good leadership.”
Still, not every player wants to sit out.
Texas Christian tight end Pro Wells, a former Dixie Hollins standout who is on the watch list for the John Mackey Award, plans to finish his college career by playing his senior season.
“My thing is when we were quarantined every football player was saying that, ‘oh I miss football, they need to let us play and all this’,” Wells said. “Now that they are letting us practice I see players crying and making excuses. It’s simple: Do you wanna play or not?
“I’m playing no matter what.”