The Big Ten Conference announced that it was canceling fall sports left its partner in crime Pac-12 Conference to follow suit. In a span of fewer than ten hours on Tuesday thousand’s of student-athletes futures were left in limbo.
“All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans,” said Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”
The announcement to cancel fall sports in the Pac-12 was done with razor sharp precision. The process that led up to that decision was downright messy. From the beginning Pac-12 Commisioner Larry Scott never seemed to have grasped the sheer magnitude needed to safely pull of fall competition. It seemed covetous eyes were on minimizing loss revenue if fans were not allowed to attend games. First there was the decision to a conference only schedule. So with no fans in the stands to watch football games television revenue could offset some of the loss.
With Scott and his staff spending more time on the dollar, the players banded together and formed a players coalition. The #WeAreUnited movement was born with players demanding transparency in how safety decisions were made among other things.
While the players were asking for a temporary seat at the table to be heard the Pac-12 Conference brushed their concerns to the side. With unity among players in the Pac-12 and other conferences growing the Pac-12 seemed to push its hand deeper into the sand.
In the end the Conference decided to cancel fall sports with an option to play in spring though no promises were made.
“The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.”
On Tuesday night the #WeAreUnited coalition responded with statement regarding the decision to cancel fall sports and how their demands were never addressed.
“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 transparence 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.”
WHAT ‘S NEXT
In it’s cancellation of fall sports the Pac-12 announced, “Student-athletes impacted by the postponement will continue to have their scholarships guaranteed,”. The Pac-12 called on the NCAA to grant players an extra year of eligibility which is one of the players demands. The players are aware of their value to the University and it would benefit each conference and eventually the NCAA to have meaningful dialogue with the players. The discussions can create a win, win situation for student athletes, schools, television and fans . A heavy handed stance by the Pac12 conference will result in a no win situation for all