- A group of collegiate athletes in the Pac-12 conference threatened to boycott the upcoming season over concerns over the coronavirus and racial inequities.
- The group published a letter to the conference in The Players Tribune featuring a list of demands that must be met for players to return to the field.
- According to reports, some student-athletes have faced repercussions for their involvement in the movement.
- Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich threatened to withhold wide receiver Kassidy Woods’ scholarship over potential involvement with the player boycott, according to The Dallas Morning News.
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Student-athletes across the West Coast have united to confront the Pac-12 conference head-on.
And now, some have said student-athletes are facing repercussions for doing so.
In a letter published in The Players Tribune Sunday, a group of Pac-12 collegiate athletes threatened to boycott the upcoming season if a list of demands was not met and committed to in writing by the conference. For some of the players behind the letter, involvement in the unity movement resulted in reported threats of dismissal from their teams and subsequent loss of scholarships.
One such example came out of Washington State, where Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich is accused of threatening to withhold a scholarship from Kassidy Woods when the wide receiver informed him of his alignment with the unity movement and his decision to skip the 2020 season because of his increased risk of COVID-19 complications from sickle cell anemia.
According to a transcript of a phone call between Rolovich and Woods obtained by The Dallas Morning News, the first-year head coach told the redshirt sophomore that he saw “nothing wrong” with Woods opting out due to health concerns, but that his participation with the unity movement was “gonna be an issue.”
“That’s gonna be an issue if you align with them as far as future stuff, cause the COVID stuff is one thing,” Rolovich said. “But, um, joining this group is gonna put you on a, on a – that’s obviously, you know, you get to keep your scholarship this year, but it – it’s gonna be different. You know, if you, if you say, ‘I’m opting out ’cause of COVID and health and safety,’ I’m good. But this group is gonna change, uh, I guess, how things go in the future for everybody, at least at our school.”
When Woods told Rolovich that he intended to stay at Washington State and train with the team despite not feeling comfortable travelling and competing, the former Hawaii Rainbow Warriors coach told him that “sends too much of a mixed message” and that Woods would have to clean out his locker for the season.
On Sunday, Woods’ mother, Jerline, tweeted that her son and others on the team had been cut from the Cougars’ roster.
This is a BOLDFACED LIE!! Multiple players cut and told to clean out their lockers. Our son @Kassidy7Woods (WR) who was the 1st to get cut, yesterday. He was told it would send mixed msgs to the team, having him around. Today it was confirmed by the AD! @NickRolovich @pat_chun
— Jerline Woods (@mrsjawjr) August 2, 2020
Though a representative for the program insisted that Woods remained on Washington State’s roster, the wide receiver and Addison, Texas, native told the Morning News that “the damage has already been done” and that he’s unsure whether or not his scholarship will extend beyond this year.
“If they had shown me they wanted me to stay, they wouldn’t have done all this,” Woods said. “So, I’m not the problem here. I didn’t create the problem. They did.”
“I loved WSU,” Woods added. “It’s a great place. I have built my platform here … I never intended for things to lead this direction. I’ve been [nothing] but a service to this school.”
According to ESPN, the school is expected to release a statement in support of Rolovich on Monday.
Woods is just one of “hundreds” of players subscribing to the unity movement, per The Athletic. Athletes across the Pac-12 who helped pen the letter cited issues of racial and economic inequity in collegiate athletics as well as concerns about health and safety measures meant to protect athletes during the coronavirus crisis. A number of the conference’s most high-profile players appear to be involved, while athletes from other FBS conferences expressed their support for the movement.
Neither Woods nor representatives for Washington State immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.
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