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By Players of the Big Ten



To the NCAA and Big Ten Conference,

College Athlete Unity (CAU) goes on record for expressing concern from over 1000 Big Ten football players. CAU members represent 23 different varsity sports in schools at each major conference, as well as in all NCAA divisions, NAIA and U Sports (Canada). CAU strives to enable collegiate athletes to use their platforms for change. We support all athletes to stand up and speak out.

While we appreciate the Big Ten’s recently announced plan for the upcoming season, we believe that the conference̵

7;s proposals will not be short in some areas. Given that the players are the main stakeholders in the industry’s activities, we believe that all measures that move forward must include player efforts. We are deeply disappointed by the lack of leadership that the NCAA has shown in player safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that the NCAA must – on its own and through cooperation with the conference – develop an overall plan to ensure the safety and well-being of players leading up to and during the coming fall season.

The NCAA – known for its zeal for regulation and enforcement – has had plenty of time to prepare to put athletes back in competition, but still has done nothing. Its laissez-faire strategy forces each conference and each school to create its own plan, resulting in inconsistent policies, procedures and protocols.

Given that the NCAA and conference management have not asked for our efforts, we feel compelled to demand clarity, commitment, and action regarding our common sense below.

We have entered into a dialogue in good faith with Big Ten and hope that the NCAA will follow suit. Given the short time frame and with our season at stake, this conversation must happen now.


Protect the well-being of all athletes

Monitoring and transparency

  • Third party, approved by players, to administer COVID testing and to maintain all COVID-19 health and safety standards
  • Adequate penalties for non-compliance
  • Mandate for athletics personnel to report suspected crimes

Protocol for prevention and safety

  • Ensure that all athletes have up-to-date information on the risks that COVID-19 may pose to their personal health, their families and the health of their community
  • Compliance with WHO and CDC guidelines for sporting events and compliance with all federal, state and local statutes and regulations
  • Safety standards that are appropriate for each sport
  • Social distance requirements and mandatory mask wearing in and around sports facilities by coaches, staff, players, salespeople, press and visitors
  • Minimum protocol for cleaning and sanitation for all uniforms, equipment and sports facilities, including guest rooms for visitors
  • Temperature controls for everyone who enters a sports facility

Testing, contact tracking and related procedures

  • Contact tracking protocol for anyone who comes in contact with college athletes and team staff who test positive
  • Testing of everyone who comes in contact with college athletes, including coaches, trainers, medical staff, business staff, judges, media, etc.
  • Testing during the season of all the above three days per week
    • Test twice a week with an FDA-approved test with less than 1% false negatives
    • In addition, testing on the day of the competition (or within 24 hours after the competition for each team that can be quarantined) with an FDA-approved test with less than 5% false negatives, with results delivered at least two hours before the competition
  • Immediate quarantine of all persons who test positive or show symptoms
  • Quarantine rules for college sports that test positives and protocols for their return to practice and competition
  • Objective criteria for closing seasons, the pandemic should take a turn for the worse or if it experiences significant outbreaks

Player Insurance

  • Whistleblower protection for athletes and athletes who report suspected violations
  • Prohibit the use of exemptions from COVID-19
  • Automatic medical red coat for all players who miss all competitions due to a positive test or a mandatory quarantine due to contact tracking
  • Retain athletic eligibility, scholarship and playing field for all players who choose to participate in the athlete or cannot play more than 40% of their scheduled season due to COVID-19 or season postponement / cancellation
  • Free access to the Big Ten network for athlete family members

Risk-related financial support

  • Coverage for all out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 (both short and long term) incurred by active athletes
  • Scholarship protection (including room, board and scholarship) if the season is interrupted due to COVID-19
  • An adjustment of the cost of living to account for the increase in personal expenses related to limited access that players have to facilities
  • Repayment for scholarships that were reduced during the summer

About College Athlete Unity

College Athlete Unity is a member organization for inter-college athletes who together want to deal with injustice and bring about positive change with our privileges and great platforms. Our members represent 23 different varsity sports at schools in each major conference, as well as in all NCAA divisions, NAIA and U Sports (Canada). Read more at www.collegeathleteunity.org.

For media contact, please contact Hunter Reynolds and Benjamin St-Juste at [email protected]


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