California Senate Education Committee Approves NCPA Student-Athletes Bill of Rights!

This legislation is the first of its kind and promises student-athletes the important protections that should have been in place long ago. California is leading the way by establishing these standards for their universities...

April 19, 2012

Sacramento – The Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 1525 sponsored by the National College Players Association and authored by California State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima).  The legislation would implement the “Student-Athlete Bill of Rights” which would require that California universities that earn significant media rights revenues provide injured student athletes and athletes in sports programs with low graduation rates the necessary medical, financial and educational support  to complete their degree. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“I am big fan of collegiate athletics.  But I am also very concerned that the vast amount of money in collegiate sports has distracted everyone from the primary purpose of our colleges.  With billions of dollars in television revenue gained on the backs of student-athletes, it is shameful that so few student-athletes actually graduate and that many are further burdened with medical bills due to injury,” said Senator Padilla.

“The universities impacted by this bill benefit from their share of a $3 billion media contract.  With such largess, nothing prevents these colleges from meeting the standards established in this bill.  Neither personal injury nor poverty should dim the dreams of a student-athlete pursuing a degree, particularly when their performance has enriched their college,” Padilla added.

According to the US Department of Education the graduation rate of Cal Berkeley basketball players is 20%.   For UCLA football players it’s only 43%.  Only 30% of USC basketball players graduate and more than half of their football players fail to earn a bachelor’s degree. Less than two percent of collegiate athletes go on to play at the professional level.

Specifically, SB 1525 (Padilla) would require California universities that generate an annual average of $10 million dollars in media revenue* to:

•Provide equivalent scholarships to student-athletes who are injured and lose their athletic scholarship

•Provide equivalent scholarships for student-athletes whose athletic scholarship are not renewed for non-disciplinary reasons and participate in a sport where the graduation rate is less than 60 percent

•Pay the medical premiums for Cal-Grant eligible students for injuries resulting from participation in intercollegiate athletics

•Cover all medical expenses of its student-athletes related to their participation in an intercollegiate sport

(*UCLA, Cal Berkeley, USC and Stanford are the four universities that would currently be required to meet the standards in the bill)

“This legislation is the first of its kind and promises student-athletes the important protections that should have been in place long ago. California is leading the way by establishing these standards for their universities,” said Ramogi Huma, President of the National College Players Association.

All California Colleges with intercollegiate athletic programs would be required to:

•Conduct a financial and life skills workshop for all first and third year student-athletes

•Afford student athletes the same disciplinary due process as other students

•Adopt and implement guidelines to prevent, assess and treat sports related concussions, dehydration, along with exercise and supervision guidelines for student-athletes identified with potentially life-threatening health conditions

•Approve without delay a student-athletes request for transfer to another institution of higher education without imposing restrictions or conditions

California’s twelve thousand Division I and II intercollegiate athletes generated more than $687 million dollars in revenue in 2010 for their schools’ athletic departments.  According to NCAA graduation statistics, seventeen of these schools have at least one sport where graduation rates are only 50 percent.  When factoring in U.S. Department of Education criteria, the rate is much lower.  

Additionally, each year, thousands of student-athletes suffer injuries while training or competing.  A sixteen year study conducted by the NCAA and the Journal of Athletic Training showed that in football alone, there were 30,797 injuries from games and more than 53,298 from fall and spring practice sessions. Many of these injuries are career ending.  

Scholarship athletes, who suffer season or career ending injuries are often saddled with medical bills and are at risk of losing their scholarship. Presently, there is no uniform policy for student-athlete medical coverage. Nor are there policies that preserve educational support for student-athletes who lose their athletic scholarships due to injury, which further contributes to low graduation rates among student-athletes.

Padilla said his legislation would help the NCAA fulfill its stated mission of integrating intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.  “Despite the NCAA’s stated mission, it does not require that schools pay for medical coverage or provide continued academic support for injured student-athletes. As a result, when injured, many student-athletes not only lose their scholarships but are also saddled with medical bills they cannot afford,” said Senator Alex Padilla.

Last year, the National College Players Association (NCPA) sent a petition to NCAA President Mark Emmert. The petition, signed by hundreds of football and basketball student-athletes from five top revenue-generating schools including the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), requested that the NCAA and college presidents use a portion of more than $775 million in new television revenues to increase student-athlete graduation rates, prevent permanently injured players from losing scholarships, pay for all sports-related medical expenses and increase scholarships to cover the actual cost of attendance.