Pac-12 Players Demand Pay for Performance, COVID Safeguards

A group of Pac-12 football players over the weekend began a media campaign that threatens a boycott of practices and games unless concessions for athlets, outlined in a post to The Players Tribune, are met by the league’s commissioner, administrators and coaches.

The list of players signed on to the statement includes 2019 Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell, who is likely to be a first-round NFL Draft pick. The social media campaign is using the hashtag #WeAreUnited to generate support.

The group is being advised by National Collegiate Players Association Executive Director Ramogi Huma, an organizer who tried and failed to unionize the Northwestern football team in 2014. In recent months, Huma has been testifying in state legislatures in support of bills that allow college athletes to financially benefit from their name, image and likeness. Huma testfied at the Nebraska Legislature in February in favor of LB962, the Nebraska Fair Pay to Play Act, which passed on July 21.

The requests in the statement from the PAC-12 players are wide-ranging. They include better safety protocols for playing during the coronavirus pandemic and the creation of a Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit to address racial injustice. The student-athletes on the letter also ask the conference to set aside 2% of the Pac-12’s budget for players to direct toward financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives and college athlete development programs and guaranteed medical coverage for six years after the end of a college athlete’s eligibility.

The letter also asks for the conference to use 50% of the Pac-12’s total revenue as payment to student-athletes for their performance, to be spread evenly among them according to the revenue generated by each sport.

According to a study commissioned by Huma, the fair market value for every Pac-12 football player is $274,454. In the Big Ten, every football player would be paid $412,099 in fair market value.

Salary payments to student-athletes would be in direct violation of current NCAA rules and would, in effect, make college football either a direct professional competitor of the NFL or a salaried minor league for the NFL.

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