Roth: Pac-12 Player Demands Wouldn't Have Happened Three Years Ago

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By CBS Sports Radio

Numerous Pac-12 college football players have threatened to boycott the season if demands pertaining to player safety, financials, and social injustice are not met. The group has adopted the hashtag, #WeAreUnited, to push its campaign.

Pac-12 Network analyst Yogi Roth has no problem with players using their voice in this fashion. In fact, he’s proud of them.

“I celebrate them,” Roth said on The DA Show. “The Pac-10, -12, -8 – you can go back in history, it’s always been about athletes using their voices and standing up for what they believe in, and that’s something that I know our conference takes a lot of pride in. I was proud of them for that. I thought about myself as a player. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have had the guts to do that. I don’t think anybody three years ago would have had the guts to do something like this, this big. We’ve seen elements [of it] like at Northwestern and Missouri in the past [but] nothing like this. I applaud them for that, and ultimately I celebrate the essence of it.”

Pac-12 players are asking commissioner Larry Scott, administrators, and coaches “to voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay,” reinstate all discontinued sports, distribute 50 percent of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports, award six-year athletic scholarships to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion, and allow athletes to transfer one time without punishment, among other requests.

“I think the form of it, there’s some holes obviously that have been poked in it,” said Roth, who played at Pitt and later coached at USC. “But I think for being 18-to-22 and thinking about how scared I would be right now as an athlete with everything going on around COVID-19, everything going on around social justice and [the] anti-racist movement, everything going on around their futures, and the uncertainties around are they going to play, is it the last time they’re going to play – some of them already have kids or families, and the NFL is a huge desire for them. 

“So to me, I had a lot of empathy for them,” Roth continued. “You saw a lot of hate going on on social media, but to me, ultimately, I stand beside these guys in terms of standing up for what they think is something they should change. All of it won’t get changed obviously, but I think it’s a pretty powerful time in history. It’s not just stopping with them. I’ve talked to players in other conferences. This is just going to continue to go. Whether it gets dealt with behind the scenes because the Pac-12 put it out front, we’ll find out, but I know other conferences are planning to do this prior to them getting to training camp as well.”

Scott responded to players Monday and said he is “happy to discuss” their demands.

“This is not us versus them,” Roth said. “This is not a case of Larry Scott’s office versus the We Are United community. It’s really not. I think it can get pitted like that pretty quickly. Everybody’s on the same page. How can we make the student-athlete experience the best one possible?”