So much for the positive news when it comes to the UCLA football program.
This week, UCLA became the first California Power Five football program to announce a return date for voluntary on-campus. Per the school, those workouts were set to begin next Mondy, June 22. However, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that, following a virtual team meeting Thursday night, 30 UCLA football players have thrown their support behind a document demanding third-party oversight of their upcoming workouts. The reason? They do not trust Chip Kelly‘s program “to act in their best interest, particularly in regard to their health,” the Times wrote.
According to the players, “UCLA has ‘perpetually failed us… neglected and mismanaged injury cases.” Specific examples weren’t cited
From the Times‘ report:
The players demanded that a “third-party health official” be on hand for all football activities to see that protocols for COVID-19 prevention are being followed; that anonymous whistleblower protections are provided for athletes and staff to report violations; and that each player can make a decision about whether to come back to Westwood without fear of losing his scholarship or other retaliation.
“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,” the document reads. “If our demands are not met, we will refrain from booster events, recruiting events and all football-related promotional activities.
“The decision to return to training amidst a global pandemic has put us, the student-athletes, on the frontlines 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.
The newspaper writes that “UCLA athletic officials expressed understanding of the players’ hesitation to return to campus as the pandemic continues.”
UPDATED 5:20 p.m. ET: It certainly didn’t take long for UCLA football to at least start to take some action.
Sources: #UCLA will have Zoom meeting for players with coach Chip Kelly and incoming AD Martin Jarmond today. Players will not lose scholarships if they choose not to play. Also, UCLA is setting up anonymous hotline/link for athletes to report any problems around return to play.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) June 19, 2020