A group of “over 1,000 Big Ten football players” has issued a list of concerns and demands of the conference ahead of the 2020 season.
The Big Ten released the fall schedule earlier Wednesday, but within hours “Players of the Big Ten” penned a letter with athlete website The Players’ Tribune titled “#BigTenUnited”. The letter is in part from College Athlete Unity, a member organization representing “23 different varsity sports at schools in every major conference”, expressing concerns for the upcoming season.
The letter says the players appreciate the announced plan for the upcoming season but that the “conference’s proposal falls short in certain areas.” It goes on to say that player input is necessary and that the NCAA must devise a “comprehensive plan to ensure the safety and well-being of players” for this fall.
Nebraska University System President Ted Carter confirmed on KLIN’s Road to Recovery that Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren spoke to two student-athletes at each member school Monday. For Nebraska, one of those student-athletes was junior quarterback Adrian Martinez.
The letter closes by saying, “Given the short time frame, and with our season at stake, this conversation must happen now.”
The proposals range from third-party COVID-19 testing and enforcement of health and safety protocols, player assurances such as whisleblower protections for reporting suspected violations and banning the use of COVID-19 liability waivers, and scholarship protections in the event the season is canceled.
Pac-12 players released a similar letter of proposals and demands less than a week ago, though they asked for more economic changes than what the Big Ten players are at this point.
As of 11:10 am CT, no players have publicly signed their name to the letter.
The full Big Ten Unity Proposal for Protecting the Well-Being of All-Athletes is below.
Oversight and Transparency
- Third-party, approved by players, to administer COVID testing and to enforce all COVID-19 health and safety standards
- Sufficient penalties for noncompliance
- Mandate for athletics personnel to report suspected violations
Prevention and Safety Protocols
- Ensure all athletes have up-to-date information about the risks that COVID-19 may pose to their personal health, the health of their families and the health of their communities
- Adherence to WHO and CDC guidance for sporting events and compliance with all federal, state, and local statutes and regulations
- Safety standards that are appropriate for each sport
- Social distancing requirements and mandatory mask-wearing in and around athletic facilities by coaches, staff, players, vendors, press, and visitors
- Minimum cleaning and sanitation protocols for all uniforms, equipment, and athletic facilities, including visitor locker rooms
- Temperature checks for anyone entering any athletic facility
Testing, Contact Tracing and Related Procedures
- Contact-tracing protocols for anyone who comes into contact with college athletes and team personnel who test positive
- Testing of everyone who comes into contact with college athletes, including coaches, trainers, medical staff, nutrition staff, referees, media, etc.
- In-season testing of all of the above three days per week
- Testing twice per week with an FDA-approved test with less than 1% false negatives
- Additionally, testing on the day of competition (or within 24 hours of competition for each team that can be quarantined) with an FDA-approved test with less than 5% false negatives, with results delivered at least two hours before competition
- Immediate quarantine of any person who tests positive or exhibits symptoms
- Quarantine rules for college athletes who test positive, and protocols for their return to practice and competition
- Objective criteria for shutting down seasons should the pandemic take a turn for the worse or if teams experience significant outbreaks
- Whistleblower protections for athletics personnel and college athletes reporting a suspected violation
- Ban the use of COVID-19 liability waivers
- Automatic medical redshirt for any player who misses any competitions due to a positive test or a mandatory quarantine due to contact tracing
- Preserve athletic eligibility, scholarship, and roster spot for any player who opts out of athletic participation or is unable to play more than 40% of their scheduled season due to COVID-19 or season postponement/cancellation
- Complimentary access to the Big Ten Network for athletes’ family members
Hazard-Related Economic Support
- Coverage for all out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 (both short-term and long-term) incurred by active college athletes
- Scholarship protections (including room, board and stipend) in the event that the season is canceled due to COVID-19
- An adjustment to the cost-of-living stipend to account for the increase in personal expenses related to limited access that players have to facilities
- Reimbursement for stipends that were reduced during the summer
Feature Image by Kenneth Larabee