It was an eventful Sunday for the Pac-12, and especially for the Washington State Cougars football program.
Let’s start at the top with the #WeAreUnited campaign a number of Pac-12 football players launched Sunday morning.
The Players of the Pac-12 will opt-out of fall camp and game participation due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns unless the conference guarantees in writing to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons. #WeAreUnited https://t.co/KQ3oqdB5BL— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 2, 2020
Jeff covered more of the details, as well as how some Cougars are participating. While details of the players’ push for fair treatment were fresh off the press, another layer to the story began to circulate on Twitter, tied to how WSU was handling players involved in #WeAreUnited.
There was a lot of back and forth and several deleted Tweets, but here is the high-level view of the situation, as best as I can tell.
- WSU wide receiver Kassidy Woods is opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19 and his health.
- WSU and head coach Nick Rolovich have accepted that decision, and Woods will remain on scholarship for 2020.
- Woods’ status with the team, and scholarship, beyond 2020 remains unclear.
- The uncertain status for Woods, and potentially other players, is tied for their involvement in #WeAreUnited, which Rolovich implied that WSU is not supportive of.
Jonah Javad, a sports anchor in Dallas (Woods is from Texas), spoke with the Woods family and shared more details.
Kassidy was. After all, he’s a co-founder of the Black Student Athlete Association at Wash State. A role that was celebrated & supported by WSU AD Pat Chun.— Jonah Javad (@JonahJavad) August 3, 2020
According to John Woods, Rolovich took issue with Kassidy’s involvement in the #WeAreUnited movement.
The phone call — which I’m told was recorded by Kassidy — included with Rolovich telling the soph WR to clean out his locker Monday to distance team from “movement.”— Jonah Javad (@JonahJavad) August 3, 2020
Rolovich also expressed uncertainty over Woods’ future with the team.
Chun confirmed to Kassidy that his scholarship/future at #Wazzu is uncertain. A startlingly and disturbing decision given Chun’s previous support of Kassidy’s leadership/effort to inspire racial equality.— Jonah Javad (@JonahJavad) August 3, 2020
Kassidy is still on scholarship for now, but it’s renewed year-to-year.
And more from Theo Lawson of the Spokesman Review:
I've spoken to Kassidy Woods on the phone about his decision to opt out. #WSU coach Nick Rolovich said, according to Woods, (paraphrased) "There’s one way we’ll handle it if it’s COVID-related, then there’s one way we’re going to handle it if it’s joining this group."— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) August 3, 2020
It turns out that the recording of the call was posted to SoundCloud, and it was transcribed by The Dallas Morning News. You can read the whole thing, but this is the relevant portion:
WSU has not issued any official comment on the situation.
Let’s first start with whether WSU and Nick Rolovich are “cutting” players who participate in #WeAreUnited. I put the word “cutting” in quotes, because that is a point of discrepancy. There were some initial tweets, including one from Washington football player Ty Jones, that said WSU had cut players participating.
Jones would later delete that Tweet.
Again, WSU has not refuted or commented on anything officially. But, multiple members of the media — both local and national — tweeted this sentiment, which was likely flowing through the school’s sports information department.
Players’ scholarships at WSU will be honored and they’ll remain on the roster.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 2, 2020
It does not appear any players have been “cut” in the traditional sense where they would immediately lose their scholarship. Their long-term future and status with the team beyond this year, however, doesn’t appear to be clear either. Woods has said his scholarship situation is unclear beyond this season, so while he may not have been cut, he also isn’t given the same assurances most players receive when they sign with a school — even if most scholarships are technically year-to-year.
That said, the much bigger issue here is Rolovich’s and WSU’s stance on players participating in #WeAreUnited moving forward.
Opt out of the season because of concerns about COVID, no problem. Participate in #WeAreUnited and all of a sudden a player’s current and long-term status seems to be in question. Four-year scholarships are quickly becoming wait and see, should you advocate for yourself as a player.
There will be a lot more to come as the #WeAreUnited movement unfolds. Hopefully for Rolovich and WSU, they handle the next stages of the process a lot better than they handled this.
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2. at Washington State | Nov. 27 | Pullman
Typically, the Apple Cup requires no explanation. But this will be a particularly important one for two debuting head coaches — UW’s Jimmy Lake and WSU’s Nick Rolovich.
COVID-19 concerns lead to college football issues at Pac-12 school.
A Washington State football player said his status on the team was threatened by the head coach because the player is part of a group of Pac-12 Conference athletes threatening to sit out this season unless demands for “fair treatment’’ are met.
"That's going to be a problem if you align with them": WSU Head Football coach questions Pac-12 Unity Group | News | khq.com
According to a recording provide to the Dallas Morning News, WSU head football coach Nick Rolovich questioned a players decision to join the Pac-12 Unity Group.
Washington State football player opts out of fall season, alleges coach took issue with participation in Pac-12 unity group | The Spokesman-Review
For the past few months, wide receiver Kassidy Woods has contemplated whether to suit up for Washington State’s football team this fall as the coronavirus pandemic raged through his home state of Texas and much of the West Coast, where he’d be playing the majority of his games in the Pacific-12 Conference.
Full transcript: Washington State coach Nick Rolovich critical of PAC-12 unity statement in conversation with WR Kassidy Woods
Washington State WR Kassidy Woods called head coach Nick Rolovich on Saturday to inform him that Woods would be opting out of the season. The two then discussed the PAC-12 unity movement, which was published in The Players’ Tribune on Sunday.
A Grip on Sports: There's battle lines being drawn between the Pac-12 and its football players, with WSU on Sunday's front lines | The Spokesman-Review
A GRIP ON SPORTS • For what it’s worth, if you are an aficionado of old-time country-rock, there is a ‘60s song that captures perfectly what’s happening in the Pac-12 – and Washington State – right now.
Blanchette: It's a mess now, but Pac-12 unity movement is right thing at right time | The Spokesman-Review
This is going to end well. Really.
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The Jaguars placed quarterback Gardner Minshew, running back Ryquell Armstead, tight end Charles Jones, receiver Michael Walker and safety Andrew Wingard on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday.