NCPA Sponsors Law to Mandate Cost of Living for College Athletes

Law would increase scholarships to cover full cost of attendance plus a $3600 stipend.

March 15, 2013

Riverside, CA – The National College Players Association (NCPA) announced its sponsorship of a California Assembly Bill 475b, which would require California public universities whose athletes generate high revenues to provide scholarships that fully cover the cost of attendance as well as $3600 per year for living expenses.  The bill will formally be introduced on this week.

The NCPA has partnered with Drexel Sport Management professor Ellen Staurowsky to conduct annual studies showing that so-called “full” athletic scholarships fall short of the price tag of each school, otherwise known as the cost of attendance.  The NCAA admits that its limit on “full” scholarships leaves athletes with $3000-$5000 in out of pocket expenses every year.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley stated, “Given the billions of dollars that we generate and the substantial health risks we face, a moderate increase to cover our costs is more than reasonable.  I really hope the state of California approves it, and that it sets a new standard for schools nationwide.”

University of Georgia football player Chris Burnette said, "Student-athletes across the country are in legitimate need for more funding and an increase like this would help alleviate that need.  With all the new money being brought in from the college football playoff, it should be a huge priority for schools to make sure their student-athletes can pay for their basic cost of living.”

Clemson University football player Robert Smith believes that such an increase is consistent with the NCAA’s stated mission.  Smith said, “At the end of the day, this bill would fully fund players’ education, which is what NCAA sports is supposed to be about.  If California athletes are able to get this support, the rest of us will be next.”

NCPA President and former UCLA football player Ramogi Huma stated, “The NCAA has forced schools to shortchange players’ educational opportunities for far too long.  I’m thankful that Assemblymember Cheryl Brown is pushing to change that.”

Purdue quarterback Rob Henry also favors the idea of financial relief.  He said, "I love being a college athlete but it really is a full-time job.  We don't have time to get another job to pay for our scholarship shortfall.  A modest increase like this would help prevent many us from sinking in thousands of dollars of debt."

As for the predictable threats from the NCAA that the bill would force schools to violate NCAA rules and therefore lead to NCAA punishments, such punishments would violate state and federal antitrust laws.

“The NCAA does not have an antitrust exemption and cannot legally impose a group boycott or similar punishment on schools complying with their state’s financial aid laws.  Instead, the bill would compel the NCAA to raise scholarship limits nationwide to reflect California law,” stated Huma.

This bill is being introduced after the NCAA backtracked on a rule to allow colleges to give a $2000 stipend to its players.  Georgia Tech football player Isaiah Johnson stated, “It was tough to watch the NCAA approve a $2000 stipend only to change its mind a few weeks later.  The NCAA is taking advantage of us, and it’s time for collegiate athletes to have better support.”

In addition to fully covering players’ cost of living expenses, the bill would mandate five-year scholarships for players that remain in good standing and continue their athletic participation.  Currently, schools can limit scholarships to one year and can eliminate the scholarships of players in good standing for any reason other than a permanent injury.  Last year the NCPA successfully sponsored a California Student-Athletes Bill of Rights, which prohibits California schools from eliminating the scholarships of permanently injured players.

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Launched by a group of UCLA football players in 2001, the National College Players Association serves as the only independent voice for college athletes across the nation. Since its first press conference on Jan. 18, 2001, the NCPA has worked to achieve a voice for the athlete and an equitable balance power and value between the schools, the sanctioning bodies, and the heart of sport—the athlete. The NCPA does so by advocating for players’ rights, due process, improved player safety, increased graduation rates, additional employment opportunities, and the closure of the so-called “scholarship shortfall.” Over the past decade NCPA has been featured in countless media outlets, including CBS 60 Minutes, ESPN, CNN, ABC News, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. Today the NCPA has over 17,000 members from over 150 Division I campuses nationwide.