UCLA Students Want Athletes In on COVID-19 Decisions | Athletic Business

UCLA Students Want Athletes In on COVID-19 Decisions

The UCLA student council wants athletes to have a seat at the table for the COVID-19 decisions that impact their sports and their safety.

According to USA TODAY, the Undergraduate Student Association Council is trying to include student-athletes on all COVID-19 task forces, and also prevent athletes from facing repercussions when deciding whether or not to participate in team activities. The council adopted the resolution Tuesday, asking UCLA chancellor Gene Block, athletic director Martin Jarmond and California governor Gavin Newsom to offer athletes protections as the college sports world aims at returning to action in the fall.

"As of today, none of the task forces created for the return to practice or competition of student-athletes has included the voices of those same students," student council member Elijah Wade, a former UCLA football player, said of the resolution, which was endorsed by the National College Players Association. "This has created fear and confusion among some within the athletic community. They have concerns that their health and well-being is being weighed against money for the university, its coaches, and administration.

"As we look at the rampant negligence and mistreatment of student-athletes in NCAA sports, it’s clear that colleges cannot be trusted with policing themselves on any health recommendations passed down by state or local officials.”

The student council wants athletes involved in order for them to have the best information when making decisions for their personal health, as well as the health of their families and communities. USA TODAY also reported that the council wants colleges to pay for any COVID-19 medical expenses for athletes. They called for “public health officials to identify and enforce health and safety standards related for COVID-19, and the prevention of serious injury, abuse, and death as a condition for resuming college sports activity.”

Related content: Despite Optimism, Football Must Clear Hurdles to Return

Wade, a defensive lineman, retired from football this spring, after a sophomore season in which he suffered an injury he felt was mishandled by UCLA. According to the Los Angeles Times, Wade said he spoke with athletes who dismissed the idea of “voluntary” workouts because coaches keep attendance and expect participation.

“The scholarship was earned and shouldn’t be lost if someone prioritizes health over their coaches’ wants during the situation of a pandemic,” Wade said, noting his experience makes him the right person for this position. “I felt that I had a voice, that I’m a person that was willing to take everything that came with this position and put myself in the crossfire, so that students could have someone that had their best interest at heart.”

UCLA’s conference, the Pac-12, will begin to allow voluntary in-person workouts on June 15. L.A. County’s stay-at-home order remains in place.

UCLA officials told USA TODAY that they will consult with the Bruin Athletic Council and other student-athlete groups when making key decisions.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and staff has been and will continue to be our top priority as we navigate the path forward,” the university said in a statement.

Related content: Task Force Informing Big Ten’s Coronavirus Decisions

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