Act proposed to protect NCAA athletes at high-revenue schools

A U.S. congressman proposed legislation on Wednesday that could significantly benefit NCAA athletes at high-revenue generating schools, who happen to be left behind for one reason or another. Some aspects of the proposal could have a lasting impact on the NCAA, which has considered amending it's current structure. 

Tony Cardenas (D-Calif) introduced the bill on Wednesday, titled the Collegiate Athlete Student Protection Act, which would provide financial aid for athletes at high-revenue generating schools (most schools from the power conferences) when a scholarship is revoked for reasons other than academic failure or behavioral misconduct.

“For example, when you look at football teams like Alabama who are accused of over-signing, and simply cutting players because they’re injured or not as good as they were when they were recruited, these are student athletes who were promised the opportunity to get a college education and graduate. We need to make sure that they have a better understanding that they’re going to complete that relationship,” Cardenas told USAToday. The proposed act is essentially focused on protecting athletes who get overlooked, due to no fault of their own. 

“It shouldn’t be a situation where you have a kid who has a dream, and then all of the sudden because the school gets a new coach or they have players that might be a little bit better than them, they’re just tossed to the side,” Cardenas added, whose proposal is based off legislation that was enacted in California earlier this year. 

The bill is focused on schools whose athletic departments generate at minimum $10 million in broadcast rights. 

  • Other provisions of the bill would include a fully guaranteed fifth-year of financial aid if the athlete has maintained a good academic record, used up his or her four years of eligibility, and is part of a team whose graduation success rate is less than 70 percent.
  • A standard baseline concussion test for athletes involved in physical contact sports.
  • Medical costs and coverage provided by the school if the athlete was injured while playing the sport.
  • If an athlete requested a transfer, the school would need to respond to the athlete's inquiry within seven business days.
  • There would also be an emphasis on educating athletes on the dangers of concussions as well as a workshop aimed at helping athletes manage their time and money. 

Cardenas deliberately proposed the bill, which has five co-sponsors, before the O’Bannon case against the NCAA gets settled for fear that the scholarship system might be in complete upheaval. 

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