WESTWOOD— UCLA football players are demanding greater health protections upon returning to the 2020 college football season. After the team virtually met on June 18, thirty players united to support a document that they believed would adequately protect them from the coronavirus.
The document, obtained by J. Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times, states that the players don’t trust that UCLA has their best health interests in mind, stating the school has “perpetually failed us” with “neglected and mismanaged injury cases.”
The players want a “third-party health official” to ensure that safety protocols for coronavirus prevention are enforced, anonymous whistleblower protections to report violations, and scholarship protection for those deciding whether or not to come back to campus.
The document continues to declare, “These demands reflect our call for an environment in which we do not feel pressured to return to competition, and if we choose not to return, that our decision will be respected. If our demands are not met, we will refrain from booster events, recruiting events and all football-related promotional activities.”
Additionally, “The decision to return to training amidst a global pandemic has put us, the student-athletes, on the front-lines of a battle that we as a nation have not yet been able to win. We feel that as some of the first members of the community to attempt a return to normalcy, we must have assurances that allow us to make informed decisions and be protected regardless of our decision.”
Matt Elliott, UCLA’s senior associate athletic director for internal operations, told the L.A. Times that athletic scholarships are not guaranteed to be protected if athletes do not return to campus because scholarships only cover the students until October 1.
Elliot told the L.A. Times, “We will evaluate subsequent terms to see where we are in the pandemic and what the health recommendations are for winter and spring.”
However, Elliot also claimed that the school is setting up an anonymous hotline that players can utilize to anonymously express concerns they have.