Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday to help student athletes at UCLA, USC and other colleges get their degrees even if they lose their athletic scholarships because of career-ending injuries on the field.
The measure by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) requires universities that generate more than $10 million in media revenue annually to provide equivalent academic scholarships to student athletes who are injured and lose their sports scholarships, or have exhausted their NCAA athletic eligibility before they have completed their degree.
The bill would apply to UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley and Stanford, while San Diego State University may also qualify in the future, Padilla said. "With billions of dollars in television revenue gained on the backs of student athletes, it is shameful that so few student athletes actually graduate,” said Padilla, an MIT graduate.
The senator cited NCAA reports that the graduation rate for UCLA’s football players is 40%, and 38% for the USC men’s basketball team. The measure also requires the universities to pay healthcare premiums for low-income students and cover deductibles for sports-related injuries.
For the Cal State system, "there is not a systemwide policy that mandates a school must provide a replacement scholarship'' for injured students, "but they traditionally choose to do so,'' said system spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp. For students who have exhausted their eligibility prior to completing their degree, "the provision of a substitute scholarship is at the discretion of the program,'' he added.
The University of California system also has traditionally provided financial aid to help student athletes stay in school if they are injured, according to Dianne Klein. Padilla said school administrators have chosen to help student athletes in the past, but his SB 1425, would put the requirements into state law.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee