The biggest college football news of the summer broke on Tuesday, when theand announced that their fall football seasons have been postponed with the possibility of playing in the spring still on the table. That left thousands of college athletes in limbo. Practices have already started -- some even taking place on Tuesday. Just like that, the season is gone.
Players of the Pac-12 started the #WeAreUnited movement earlier this month in an attempt to improve the health, well-being and financial situation of players throughout the conference. The group released a statement Tuesday night reacting to the news that they won't be playing football this fall. (via Wall Street Journal)
"It is obvious that the Pac-12 was woefully unprepared to protect college athlete safety in response to COVID-19 and could not address the basic and essential safety demands made by #WeAreUnited," the statement read. "After haphazardly trying to place the health of college athletics in jeopardy by having a season without safety mandates, the Pac-12 has now abruptly canceled the season with no transfarance and no communication with the college athletes impacted. The Pac-12's failures have made it clear that the time for change is now. The system is broken. College athletes deserve and need a real voice in the form of a players association."
They players added details about what the problems and lack of communication with commissioner Larry Scott prior to the postponement of the season.
"Throughout our dealings with Pac-12 leadership, the rights of college athletes were not taken seriously by conference leadership," the letter read. When we raised concerns over the lack of enforceable health and safety mandates in the conference as a prerequisite to a season, we were met with hostility. When we asked for legal representation at our meetings with conference leadership, we were told that would not be permitted. In fact, we never heard back from commissioner Larry Scott to the letter we sent Friday evening where we again reiterated our request for mandated health protocols. We are left with no confidence in the Pac-12 leadership."
That begs the question ... what benefits remain in place?
The group demanded that the Pac-12 preserve a year of eligibility, provide access to medical treatment, support services and meals for athletes who decide to stay on campus; and that athletic-related activities remain option until conference-wide safety standards are created.
The Pac-12 addressed many of those requests in its press release announcing the cancellation of fall sports on Tuesday.
"Student-athletes impacted by the postponement will continue to have their scholarships guaranteed," the statement read. "Additionally, the Pac-12 Conference strongly encourages that the NCAA grant students who opt out of competition this academic year an additional year of eligibility. As part of their guaranteed scholarships, they will continue to have university support, including academic advising and tutoring, among other support services."
The Big Ten didn't provide specifics on what its schools will allow its schools to provide for players in sports that have been canceled, but did announce that it will continue to monitor the situation.
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"The Big Ten Conference will continue to work with medical experts and governmental authorities to gather additional information, evaluate emerging data and technologies, and monitor developments regarding the pandemic to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes. Individual schools did mention some of the benefits that will remain in place," the conference said in a statement.
Several individual Big Ten schools did announce specific measures that they will keep in place, though.
OSU announced that its players will remain on scholarship, COVID-19 testing protocols will remain in place and tutoring and scheduling services will still be available. Buckeyes will still have access to team facilities and locker rooms, and sports performance, medical/training and nutrition areas will be available under the current health and safety protocols that are in place.
UW announced that it also will honor scholarships, provide academic advising and support, provide health insurance, and meals for athletes. Athletic director Barry Alvarez told the Big Ten Network that, in addition to off-the-field benefits, the football team will continue its 20-hour weeks through the fall. Yes, the idea of practice moving forward while games are canceled is a bit of a head-scratcher. But at least they get their work in.
The Gophers also confirmed that their players will be invited to stay on campus.
The Wolverines have paused all official practices, but players are allowed to participate in voluntary activities by virtue of existing NCAA rules.