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Arizona football player speaks out on boycott unless equity demands are met by Pac-12

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Three University of Arizona football players are considering boycotting the upcoming season after they have joined the #WeAreUnited movement alongside 13 other Pac-12 football players.

Members of the movement say they would not play until systemic inequities in race for college sports are addressed, along with COVID-19 safety and other concerns.

"We're just looking for a change to be made," said UArizona wide receiver and Sabino High School grad, Drew Dixon said.

Dixon joined a call for change from players in the Pac-12 who say that taking part in a contact sport like football during the coronavirus pandemic is essentially reckless because of what they're describing as "inadequate transparency about health hazards, and a lack of enforcement of systematic safety measures."

"Here at the U of A, we're taking very good precautions and protocols to the virus. I have no complaints about our school, but, it's a bigger picture. Are other schools doing what we're doing? They're not doing what we're doing. So it's not fair to my Pac-12 brothers and sisters," said Dixon. "We're already risking our health going. We want everybody to be treated fairly."

The movement also demands medical coverage up to six years after a player's eligibility ends, and the distribution of 50 percent of each sport's total conference revenue evenly.

"The thing that people are getting toughed (up on) is that they just assume that we're ungrateful for our scholarships and stuff to be paid for. That we're looking for more and this isn't enough," Dixon said. "For me personally, I'm blessed.  I'm thankful that I have a scholarship and my school's paid for. We know that something isn't right and there needs to be a change. I haven't opted out of anything. I'm just standing up for what is right."

The University of Arizona Athletic Department declined to comment on the movement. They referred the media to the following Pac-12 statement.

"Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics. We support our student-athletes using their voice, and have regular communications with our student-athletes at many different levels on a range of topics.

As we have clearly stated with respect to our fall competition plans, we are, and always will be, directed by medical experts, with the health, safety and wellbeing of our student athletes, coaches and staff always the first priority.

We have made it clear that any student-athlete who chooses not to return to competition for health or safety reasons will have their scholarship protected."

Here are the demands set forward by the players that are part of the #WeAreUnited movement.

Pac-12 Football Unity Demands To Protect and Benefit Both Scholarship and Walk-On Athletes

I. Health & Safety Protections

COVID-19 Protections

  1. Allow option not to play during the pandemic without losing athletics eligibility or spot on our team’s roster.
  2. Prohibit/void COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.

Mandatory Safety Standards, Including COVID-19 Measures

  1. Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19, as well as serious injury, abuse and death.

II. Protect All Sports

Preserve All Existing Sports by Eliminating Excessive Expenditures

  1. Larry Scott, administrators, and coaches to voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay.
  2. End performance/academic bonuses.
  3. End lavish facility expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports.*

*As an example, Stanford University should reinstate all sports discontinued by tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment.

III. End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society

  1. Form a permanent civic-engagement task force made up of our leaders, experts of our choice, and university and conference administrators to address outstanding issues such as racial injustice in college sports and in society.
  2. In partnership with the Pac-12, 2% of conference revenue would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.
  3. Form annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit with guaranteed representation of at least three athletes of our choice from every school.

IV. Economic Freedom and Equity

Guaranteed Medical Expense Coverage

  1. Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.

Name, Image, and Likeness Rights & Representation

  1. The freedom to secure representation, receive basic necessities from any third party, and earn money for use of our name, image, and likeness rights.

Fair Market Pay, Rights, & Freedoms

  1. Distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.
  2. Six-year athletic scholarships to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion.
  3. Elimination of 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.
  4. Ability of players of all sports to transfer one time without punishment, and additionally in cases of abuse or serious negligence.
  5. Ability to complete eligibility after participating in a pro draft if player goes undrafted and foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.
  6. Due process rights
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Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last 3 years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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