UCLA football players apologized to head coach Chip Kelly on Friday after a letter they wrote went public and portrayed the coach and his program in a negative light.
UCLA players sent a letter to the program sharing some of their concerns regarding playing/practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking additional health protections. The letter came in response to ongoing meetings between coaches and players/parents about the subject matter.
Though the letter seemed to come as part of a conversation between the players and coaches, an article published by the Los Angeles Times about the situation on Friday trumped up the matter and made it seem like there was a mutiny with players rebelling against an oppressive coach and athletic program. That’s not at all the case.
Look at how the LA Times publicized their article via Twitter. They framed it as UCLA players “demanding” and saying they “don’t trust” Kelly’s program.
Breaking: UCLA football players are demanding that a “third-party health official” be on hand for all football activities to see that protocols for COVID-19 are followed, saying they don't trust coach Chip Kelly’s program to act in their best interest https://t.co/8fMfHRn1dj
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) June 19, 2020
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson shot down that notion, saying there is not a trust issue with Kelly or a time to bash the coach. He said the focus of the letter was on ensuring health protocols that will make the student-athletes more comfortable given the situation.
#1 No one said they didn’t trust coach Kelly #2 Majority of players talked about these demands but only a handful were willing to have there names publicly written
Don’t turn this into a feeding frenzy on Coach, this is about the safety of the program as a whole. https://t.co/5dVnLgulKL
— DTR (@DoriansTweets) June 19, 2020
“I apologized to coach as I was unaware the letter would be given to the media for them to mislead,” Thompson-Robinson told The Athletic.
Yahoo’s Pete Thamel says that multiple UCLA players apologized during a team meeting as they did not realize the letter would go public. The players also acknowledged they should have gone to Kelly with their issues.
Source: UCLA team meeting today included apologies from multiple players, as they didn’t realize the letter would go public. Players expressed that they should have gone directly to Chip Kelly with any concerns. 1/3
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) June 19, 2020
Further, Thompson-Robinson says Kelly agrees with the health/safety protocol demands from the student-athletes and supports them.
Thamel says UCLA’s athletic department had already addressed all the health concerns, such as providing an independent medical advisor and ability for players to anonymously report health protocol violations. Plus, UCLA’s athletic director assured student-athletes that they would not lose scholarships for not participating in sports given the situation.
The way the entire original story was framed was completely unfair to Kelly and UCLA. Neither the coach nor the school is acting unfairly, unsympathetically, or in a way that is not understanding of the student-athletes’ concerns. In fact, the coach and school seem to be working to help address those matters. Not only that, but the UCLA football player who was a representative on a committee of student-athletes addressing health concerns says all of the issues in the letter were already being addressed prior to the LA Times’ publishing of the article.