California State Assembly Passes Controversial College Athlete Protection Act

by Riley Overend 11

June 05th, 2023 College, News

The controversial AB 252 legislation, known as the College Athlete Protection Act, has been called an existential threat to the NCAA’s current system by some while being hailed as long overdue reform by others. Either way, the debate over revenue sharing in college sports isn’t going away anytime soon after the California Assembly narrowly approved the bill last Thursday with the minimum votes required.

The College Athlete Protection Act still must pass through the state Senate and receive the signature of Gov. Gavin Newsom before becoming law. But it’s already looking like the biggest danger to the NCAA amid a wave of legal challenges including Johnson v. NCAA, House v. NCAA, and a recent complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Under the new legislation, programs that generate revenue during the 2023-24 school year in excess of their 2021-22 total would be forced to distribute those funds equally among athletes. The bill’s author, former San Diego State basketball player Chris Holden, included new amendments last week that evenly divides money between men’s and women’s teams and allows schools to use additional funds to “ensure that non-revenue-generating sports such as our Olympic sports are maintained and could receive additional funding” without that money being considered revenue in the financial formula.

If a school’s football team is its only sport that triggers revenue-sharing payments, for example, athletes on women’s teams at that school would receive the same slice of the revenue pie. Payments to college athletes would be capped at $25,000 annually, but they could still receive a surplus upon graduation if they complete their undergraduate degree within six years.

Division I schools would also be barred from “cutting any sport or funding for athletic scholarships” under another new amendment. Last month, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) had spoken out against the legislation, echoing worries that revenue sharing could spell trouble for sports across the country that don’t turn a profit. The University of California (Cal, UCLA, etc.) and California State Universities (San Jose State, San Diego State, etc.) have also opposed the bill, claiming that AB 252 would result in the elimination of non-revenue sports, along with having serious ramifications on Title IX. Last week’s amendments seemed to address those concerns.

What happens in California could have major ramifications for the rest of the country. When the state passed the first NIL bill back in 2019, it set off a domino effect of other states following suit in an effort to stay competitive that the NCAA could not stop.

“We knew with NIL that if we could get one state to do this, we could get all the other states to do this,” National College Players Association president Ramogi Huma said.

In response to critics calling the bill an existential threat to college sports, Huma said he sees the legislation as “an existential threat to the injustice in college sports.”

You can read the full text of AB 252 here.

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3 months ago

Only in the US can the current student-athlete situation be called “an injustice”. That’s some 1st world privilege right there. Non scholarship students are taking on hundreds of thousands of debt to get an education that you get for free or a reduced cost. Not to mention in many cases preferential admissions to schools that are close to impossible for non-athletes.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
3 months ago

Isn’t it, though?

We wouldn’t tolerate this sort of system in any other aspect of our lives if it were proposed today.

(And also, students shouldn’t have to take out any debt to get the educations they’re getting, too. That’s also an injustice, if ya think about it for more than two seconds.)

Tracy Flick
3 months ago

I live in California. This is the kind of crap I’ve come to expect from our legislators.

Rather than deal with real problems such as homelessness, rampant crime, a deteriorating energy grid, over-regulation of small businesses, and lowering the highest tax burden in the country, we get this. Shaking my head.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Tracy Flick
3 months ago

damn you sound triggered.

Tracy Flick
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 months ago

Steve: I’d bake cookies for you to get your vote. Remember: “Pick Flick!”

Reply to  Tracy Flick
3 months ago

I agree with you, Tracy Flick. Even if our legislators’ hearts are in the right place (and I’m not all that willing to assume that they are), the degree to which they continually believe they can micromanage every single aspect of life in this state without any regard to unintended consequences is absolutely staggering. We elect the biggest group of busybodies imaginable.

Last edited 3 months ago by JVW
3 months ago

Maybe I will be proven wrong, but I don’t see many states going this particular route, spreading the wealth so evenly across revenue and non-revenue sports. On the non-revenue side, sounds like you would instantly find a big football school in California a lot more interesting as you could start making some significant bank before and after graduation, independent of NIL. And yes, I know, only one side of the equation in terms of selecting a college, but silly not to think it won’t influence some decisions…

3 months ago

How about we also make sure assistant coaches and in some cases head coaches are being paid enough to keep them in the profession

X Glide
3 months ago

I’m not sure if I like that we quickly jumped to the extreme that student-athletes should get paid out from university revenues with these new NIL rules.

I’m of the opinion that the spirit of attending college is you either get in through academics, or extracurriculars or a combination of both. As student-athletes, our deal is that universities give us an alternative avenue to obtain admission into the school (athletics).

I think what would be more fair is if athletes could actually become professional athletes (prize money, sponsorships, etc.) while not having to forego NCAA eligibility. This would even the field with the general student body who may be able to earn money through their name, image and… Read more »

Reply to  X Glide
3 months ago

Maybe. But a few select universities are generating big dollars. What should be done with it? Give it to the head football coach? The problem is rules are being put in place that only apply to maybe 20-30 universities. How do we keep the NCAA cohesive when there is such a disparity between haves and have nots?

Reply to  ZThomas
3 months ago

It’s already going to the head football coach.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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