A group of Pac-12 football players, including Oregon star defensive back Jevon Holland, announced they will "opt-out of Pac-12 fall camp and game participation" unless a series of demands are met in regards to health and safety, social justice, and economic freedom for college athletes.
The boycott had been rumored for a few weeks, but became public Sunday morning in a story published by The Players Tribune.
"We’re not your entertainment, we’re human beings," Holland told Sports Illustrated. "Just like you would help your family, we want to help our mother, father, grandmother, everyone.
"We don’t know the long-term risks. We have no idea how it’s going to affect our body regardless if we show symptoms or not. I refuse to put my health at risk for somebody else’s benefit."
A total of 12 conference players have been listed as a media contacts with Holland in that role for Oregon and Jaydon Grant at Oregon State. Sheldon graduate Cody Shear is a contact for Arizona State while former Oregon lineman Valentino Daltoso is a spokesman for California.
"Guys realize the moment and are standing together in unity throughout this whole thing," Daltoso told Sports Illustrated. "This is bigger than our individual selves. This is for all future college athletes."
Pac-12 teams are allowed to begin 20 hours of summer activities on Monday with fall camp slated to start as early as Aug. 17. The conference-only regular season schedule begins with a full slate of six games on Sept. 26.
Only 12 players from the conference are publicly aligned with the #WeAreUnited movement so there is no indication just how many players would be part of a boycott should their demands not be met. The letter in The Players Tribune is signed as "Players of the Pac-12".
Several Oregon players, including All-American offensive tackle Penei Sewell, defensive lineman Jordon Scott and cornerback Thomas Graham, tweeted their support of the movement.
The group’s demands are divided into four sections.
Under health and safety, the players are asking to have an option of not playing this season due to COVID-19 and still retain their their eligibility and roster spot. In addition, they want to prohibit any COVID-19 agreements that waive liability for the schools.
Another section asks Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, administrators and coaches to "voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay" and end performance bonuses and "lavish facility expenditures".
The "End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society" segment calls for a "permanent civic-engagement task force" to address those issues and form a "Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit." It also demands that two percent of conference revenue be used to support financial aid for "low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus."
Under the economic freedom and equity section, players want medical insurance to cover six years after their college eligibility ends and the ability to earn money for their name, image and likeness rights. In addition, they are asking for half of each sport’s total conference revenue to be divided evenly among athletes.
That section also calls for scholarships to be extended to six years and for players to be allowed to transfer one time without having to sit out a season.
A request is made to eliminate "all policies and practices restricting or deterring our freedom of speech, our ability to fully participate in charitable work, and our freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation."