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USC football players ask Gov. Newsom to ease restrictions, allow for fall season

USC football players are appealing to California Gov. Gavin Newsom to ease public health restrictions, which would allow them to play a fall season.

In a letter posted Tuesday on Twitter, the USC players highlight the Pac-12 Conference’s pledge to bring daily antigen testing to each campus, which provides quick results and “reduces COVID-19 infectiousness by 100%.” The players also refer to the Pac-12’s #WeAreUnited movement, which launched in the summer and focused on health and safety standards but never opposed the chance to play a fall season. The Pac-12 on Aug. 11 postponed its fall sports season, including football, because of concerns around the coronavirus pandemic.

League commissioner Larry Scott and others have expressed optimism about starting competition before the end of the calendar year, especially after reaching a partnership for rapid testing with Quidel Corporation. But public health regulations in California and Oregon have prevented six of the league’s 12 teams from practicing or even gathering in large numbers. USC players such as quarterback Kedon Slovis and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown posted the letter, which notes that, “As California goes, so too does the Pac-12 Conference.”

Several other Pac-12 players have tweeted their support, including Cal starting quarterback Chase Garbers, Oregon wide receiver Mycah Pittman and Utah quarterback Jake Bentley.

“The current reality is that there are too many restrictions imposed by state and local public health officials in California that prevent us from resuming practices and competition,” the USC players’ letter reads. “We cannot practice in groups larger than 12, we cannot gather as a team, and we cannot utilize any of our indoor facilities. From the onset of this pandemic, the Pac-12 has rightfully and responsibly maintained that their decisions would be based on science, and now it appears that the science and technology have turned in our favor of playing.”

The letter notes that the start of both the NFL and college seasons (in other leagues) have left Pac-12 players wondering why they can’t play this fall. A source told ESPN’s Heather Dinich that the Pac-12’s “most aggressive” return plan is targeting a start date in mid- to late November.

Newsom, who attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship, has been an advocate for college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

“Governor Newsom, our request of you is that you work with us — urgently and purposefully — to find a path forward for us to resume competitions later this fall so that we can have the same opportunity as other teams around the country to play for a national championship,” the USC players’ letter reads. “We respect the careful and cautious approach you have taken to college athletics, and we have the utmost confidence that we can partner together to quickly develop a plan that allows us to compete in a 2020 fall football season.

“Let’s find a way to say ‘Yes!’ Please let us play.”

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