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UCLA football players signal support for more protections

May 7, 2012 |  3:22 pm

UCLA football players support more protections
State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) has some heavy hitters backing one of his bills.

More than 70 players with the UCLA Bruins football team have signed a petition supporting a Padilla measure that would require universities that don’t renew a student’s athletic scholarship to provide equivalent financial assistance so the student can stay in school and get a degree. SB 1525 would also require university athletic programs to better help cover medical expenses of injured student athletes.

Padilla said California’s 12,000 college athletes helped generate more than $687 million dollars in income in 2010, but when players are injured they are sometimes left to struggle financially on their own.

University of California leaders oppose Padilla’s bill, warning it would cost the system $3 million annually. When an athletic scholarship is not renewed, it is a rare thing and usually a result of disciplinary actions, academic eligibility or student athletic performance, wrote Nadia Leal-Carrillo, legislative director for UC in a letter to the Legislature.

"UC is also concerned that forcing the university to provide an equivalent scholarship would cause problems with NCAA existing rules regarding team scholarship maximums and would be declared a recruiting advantage for California institutions," Leal-Carrillo wrote. 

The UCLA football team members, including quarterback Kevin Prince, lined up on the other side of the issue. "We the undersigned UCLA student-athletes ask the California state Legislature to approve Senate Bill 1525 to address gaps in basic protections," says the petition signed by 72 football players. Any costs, the athletes said, should be funded "with a portion of the Pac-12’s recent television contract, which will generate approximately $16 million per year in new revenues over the next 12 years."


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Photo: UCLA freshman wide receiver Tyler Scott puts a stiff arm to the face of defender Jordan Zumwalt on the way to a touchdown during UCLA's spring football scrimmage May 5. Scott is among those who signed a petition seeking better financial protections. Photographer: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times