Thirty UCLA football players have drafted a document outlining their demands to the school to ensure the safety of student-athletes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Bruins football players do not trust head coach Chip Kelly to act in the best interest of their health and are demanding a "third-party health official" oversee football activities to confirm COVID-19 protocols are being followed properly, according to the document, which was viewed by J. Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times.
But UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson tweeted Friday that players never said they don't trust Kelly, and he reiterated that their demands are related to the safety of the football program "as a whole."
In addition to the presence of a third-party health official, the players want the protection of anonymity for student-athletes and staff to report health violations. They also want to be able to decide whether to return to school without fear of possible consequences such as lost scholarships.
"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 states, according to McCollough. "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 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."
It continues: "Time and time again, we see individuals within (UCLA) athletic programs who ought to defend and protect us leave us in the dark to fend for ourselves ... Starting with neglected and mismanaged injury cases, to a now mismanaged COVID-19 pandemic, our voices have been continuously muffled, and we will no longer stand for such blatant injustices."
UCLA senior associate athletic director Matt Elliott told McCollough the school will create an online portal to allow student-athletes to anonymously report issues to the faculty athletic representative.
Elliott also said the university will guarantee scholarships for fall sport student-athletes for the upcoming season, but he could not specify regarding future years.
Schools began allowing players to return to campus for voluntary workouts on June 1. The NCAA Division I Council approved earlier this week a six-week preseason plan to begin the 2020 campaign on time.
That plan allows for interactions between coaches and players during required summer workouts, which are set to begin in July. Meetings and walk-throughs can begin July 24, while the preseason practice period is set to begin Aug. 7 for teams kicking off the campaign in Week 1.
The plan requires teams to practice for four weeks before playing their first games of the season.