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Report: Pac-12 football players threaten opt-out if league does not negotiate with them

College football players in the Pac-12 conference are using their leverage to force the conference to the negotiating table.

A detail view of the Pac-12 logo on the field at Stanford Stadium prior to the 122nd Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears on November 23, 2019 in Palo Alto, California. Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

College football remains uncertain for the fall, and things are not getting any more clear as we head into August. Conferences are approving schedules that remove non-conference games, with the Pac-12 among the most recent to do so.

While conferences are trying to figure out next steps, this is a unique opportunity for players to exert their own leverage. And we’re starting to see more players step forward.

A group of Pac-12 football players are threatening to opt out of preseason camps and games if the league does not negotiate with them over certain issues, according to ESPN. Adam Rittenberg and Mark Schlabach are reporting players from Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA, among others want the league to negotiate with them over “safe play amid the pandemic, fighting racial injustice, securing economic rights and fair compensation, protecting all sports and obtaining long-term health insurance.”

The Pac-12 released a statement saying the conference and university athletic departments had not been contacted by the group regarding the various issues. However, ESPN is reporting “at least a few of the league’s head coaches were aware of the potential boycott and have independently gauged their teams’ involvement.”

Decisions are expected to come over the next week or so regarding the fall college football season. The NCAA could elect to postpone a variety of fall sports, and while they don’t have that control over football, it would force football to make its own decision. We will likely get a better handle on this over the next week or so.