A new California law targets four Pac-12 schools in their financial responsibility in caring for athletes.
The so-called “Student-Athletes Bill of Rights” was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown late last month. Specifically, it would provide continuing education for players at schools with graduation rates under 60 percent, make schools pay for insurance premiums and cover medical expenses for players up to two years after they exhaust their eligibility.
“What do college athletes have in terms of the ability to push for change?” asked Ramogi Huma, president of the California-based National College Players Association. “Thankfully the state of California has an interest in protecting its students. They were very receptive.”
The law seems to specifically target Pac-12 schools in California (UCLA, USC, Stanford, Cal), in that is applicable to schools that receive $10 million annually in media rights. The Pac-12 currently leads the country distributing approximately $21 million per school in media revenue.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he is aware of the law and largely supports it but added, “The idea that specific schools would be singled out doesn't make a lot of sense. I think it's flat-out wrong to single out schools in the state of California. The idea of holding our schools to a different standard, I do not think it's a positive thing.”
The law mandates that schools provide a scholarship for up to a year after a player has exhausted his/her eligibility if that school's graduation success rate is lower than 60 percent (aggregated by team). None of the four Pac-12 California schools have rates less than 78 percent according to the latest figures available. However, players on individual teams could be affected if their team's grad success rate is under 60 percent.
The law also provides for schools to pay insurance premiums for low-income athletes. If a player suffers an incapacitating injury, a scholarship will be provided for up to five academic years or until the player completes his/her degree, whichever period is shorter.
Affected programs in California are now responsible for paying the insurance deductible for any player who is injured while playing his/her sport. The player or his family would have to make an insurance claim.
Similar bills have been introduced in Oklahoma, Iowa and Indiana, so far without success.