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Chris R. Holden
Assemblyman Chris R. Holden. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

NCAA Student Athlete Revenue Sharing Bill Introduced In Assembly

AB 252 would establish that up to 50% of all athletics revenue would go towards undervalued athletes with scholarships

By Evan Symon, January 21, 2023 7:53 am

A bill to expand NCAA paid athlete rules to allow for degree completion funds for major sport athletes and covering more student expenses was introduced in the Assembly on Thursday.

Assembly Bill 252, authored by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) would establish the College Athlete Protection (CAP) Act, requiring universities to install a University completion fund for college athletes. The bill would specifically target sports that athletes usually don’t receive funds through the Fair Pay to Play Act, which gives students money upon leaving or graduating for having their likeness being used in advertising or other areas that the school makes a profit on, such as football and basketball.

The CAP Act would set a maximum of $25,000 to be payed to all major sport athletes at colleges in degree completion funds, with up to 50% of all athletics revenue to go to these students. Normally awarded scholarship funds can go towards the 50% mark, but funds are to be geared towards undervalued athletes with scholarships that don’t match their market value. The funds would then be given to the student upon either completion of a Bachelor’s degree, or getting an injury that prevents them from getting a degree. Students who transfer to another school are to be paid when they get their bachelorette degree from that transferred-to college.

Payments would be capped at $25,000 a year, with guaranteed athletic scholarships and post-college medical expenses to be paid for by the college. However, if the athlete does not complete a Bachelors degree within 6 years and does not have a medical reason for not completing it, all degree completion fund payments would be forfeited. No money would b paid up front, with money only going out as soon as the athletes graduate or have to medically leave.

According to AB 252, This bill would also “establish the College Athlete Protection (CAP) Program as a program in the State Department of Education for purposes of the CAP Act. The bill would establish a 21-member CAP Panel comprised of appointed individuals to serve on 4 CAP Subpanels, as specified, for the administration of the CAP Act, as provided.”

The bill would build on SB 206, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2019. That law, which allows student-athletes to get sponsorship and endorsement deals, as well as receive money when their likeness is used, typically only covers only better known athletes, especially those in basketball and football, leaving many out. The name, image, and likeness (NIL) laws have also led to criticism that it can be used by others as an unfair advantage into attracting athletes.

A new NCAA student-athlete bill

 Speaking at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Thursday, Assemblyman Holden specifically noted how the bill would effectively stop colleges from taking away scholarships of student-athletes who become hurt.

“I know how close you can come to an injury taking away not only the game you love to play but also your opportunity to finish college. I’m not prepared to wait for Congress to address this pressing issue. This is an extremely competitive and comprehensive bill that I believe will provide the income and health services that our college athletes deserve.”

Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association, added, “It’s a bill that will end the blatant exploitation of California’s college athletes. The NCAA’s economic model is illegal and based on racial injustice. The NCAA uses amateurism as cover to systemically strip generational wealth from predominantly Black athletes from lower income households to pay for lavish salaries of predominantly white coaches, athletic directors, commissioners and NCAA administrators.”

It is unknown how much support the proposed bill has in Sacramento, although many of those who voted in favor of SB 206 four years ago are likely set to vote on AB 252 later this year. However, many Universities and athletic departments are likely to come out against the bill, as it would possibly come into conflict with current scholarship rules, as well as lead to more advantageous positions for universities that have such a law in place.

“This bill will really hurt amateurism in this country and give a huge unfair advantage to schools that have this revenue plan,” noted Oscar Jansen, a former scout and recruiter for several universities, to the Globe on Friday. “What about small Universities that put every dollar back into their programs who now have to contend with paying athletes? What about athletes who decide to transfer after a few years to another university with this installed to get money after graduating, leaving their other team high and dry?”

“There is already a widening issue of college transfers in the NCAA, and this would only harm it further, hurting small and big programs alike. Really good students at small universities would move to bigger programs or those with more money coming to them, while smaller programs can offer more play time and possibly more funds for them playing there. If you are talking about fairness in the system, this bill is far from it.”

SB 252 is expected to be heard in the Assembly in the coming months.

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Evan Symon
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