American Athletic Conference athletes are reportedly working on a document to send to their schools and the league office that lists similar concerns about health and safety surrounding the coronavirus along with revenue demands that Pac-12 and Big Ten players went public with last week.
Sports Illustrated reported the document called a "Proposal for Change" listed 10 concerns, including COVID-19 safety, scholarship security, a request for "hazard pay" and 20% of AAC revenue. The report alleged the movement started with UCF players. UCF athletics director Danny White told ESPN.com he has not seen the same document Sports Illustrated published, but rather a draft that looks different. He also said UCF players are "working to try and have an organized front from a football student-athlete voice across the conference, and they're still working on it."
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said he has not seen the document and declined comment until he hears from student-athletes. Multiple American programs told ESPN they have not seen the Sports Illustrated document for themselves.
White said players approached coach Josh Heupel early last week with their concerns about playing and practicing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"They have obvious concerns that we all would have," White said. "Some of the things they were concerned about, they're pleased to learn that we've already done, some we educated them about and some impact NCAA rules.
"The things on eligibility, we've already asked the NCAA where we're going to land with that. Obviously, kids don't want to lose a whole year if we end up playing a few games and the season gets halted. It's a similar set of concerns that we've seen come out of the Big Ten and Pac-12. By and large, they're reasonable, and I think our kids have been mature about it."
White said they have reassured players that nothing is mandatory, and they would not lose their scholarships if they opt out even before the NCAA ruled on that.
They have raised concerns about traveling to play teams that might not have protocols as strict as the ones UCF has employed.
"Our kids are confident in the bubble we have at UCF. They are concerned when we go outside that bubble and start to play other teams, and the confidence that other teams are operating with our same level of strict protocols," White said.
White said they have told players that the UCF team physician as well as the opposing team physician will communicate with each other before their games kick off. He also told the players that all American teams will follow the same protocols.
"I think they're in a better place than they were five days ago now that they've learned what those protocols look like," White said. "It's not going to be, 'Hey, wink-wink it's all good.' It's going to be doctors talking to doctors, and we're going to have certainty if we're playing this fall, about the status of the opposing roster and their whole sideline, coaches anybody allowed on the sideline, we have to have certainty there's no positive cases."
As for "hazard pay," White said he explained to the players that simply was not feasible because they would then be classified as employees. "That's not one of their primary concerns," White said. "The health, safety, insurance issues that could potentially happen from COVID are by far their biggest concern from what I understand."
UCF was supposed to start practice last week, but decided to hold off until late next week at the earliest because of some of the concerns raised and because they continue to work on lining up a Week 1 opponent.