It was a rare and dramatic power play from a group of organized college athletes. But how it was delivered to reporters was noteworthy, too. The message came from the Gmail account of Valentino Daltoso, an offensive lineman at the University of California, and offered the personal email addresses of the other players so reporters could contact them.
“The interests of athletes aren’t always in line with the institutions and coaches,” said Andrew Cooper, a Cal cross-country runner who helped organize the effort. “It was important that we talked directly to the media.”
As college sports navigate their returns, enveloped by issues of racial justice, safety and amateurism, athletes have advocated for themselves this year in unprecedented ways. That’s including how they have delivered their messages.
Many college athletic departments prohibit players from talking to journalists without team permission. Some team handbooks urge players not to speak to the media at all. Others, including at the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia, have policies against freshmen speaking to the media during the regular season. And many schools have policies that monitor or even restrict players’ social media accounts.
But in their efforts to advocate for change this year, players have increasingly cut out their athletic departments. The Pac-12 players maintained correspondence with reporters over several weeks about their negotiations with the conference. When Florida State’s football coach said in an interview that he was having one-on-one conversations with players about George Floyd and racial justice, defensive lineman Marvin Wilson tweeted that it wasn’t true. Clemson’s football program recently eliminated a long-standing rule barring players from using social media, after star quarterback Trevor Lawrence tweeted about players’ rights and the return of the season over the summer.
As games are canceled and some universities withhold information about positive coronavirus