Assemblyman Chris Holden announced Assembly Bill 2747: the College Athletes Civil Rights Act of 2018, a groundbreaking measure that would provide student-athletes at NCAA mandated schools in the state of California the right to organize and earn money from commercial sponsorships on Wednesday (March 28).
“College athletes are currently playing in an exploitative situation,” Holden said. “They are forced to pursue a higher education without the same rights or financial freedoms as any of the other students on campus.”
The bill hopes to create a more equitable college athletic structure. Assembly Bill 2747 would also hold the NCAA responsible for any found negligence in ignoring sexual misconduct within sanctioned schools. If adopted, the legislation would be the first law in the country to regulate the NCAA.
Holden, who played basketball at San Diego State University, has proposed in this bill the introduction of the “Olympic Model” for college athletes, such as allowing commercial sponsorship.
“The Olympic model that we’re referring to is that we have amateur athletes who are still able to receive sponsorship without it undermining their amateur status,” said Holden.
As it stands now, student-athletes are penalized by the NCAA if it is discovered that an athlete has profited from their likeness or accepted gifts from outside parties including a meal or merchandise while under contract with the NCAA.
“Their images, their name is being exploited for financial gain for others and they receive nothing in return,” Holden said. “This is a practice that has been going on for way too long and we think that it’s time to change it.”
This would be a California law, which means only enforceable to NCAA schools in California.
The bill was unveiled in the midst of March Madness, where the NCAA will reportedly make $857 million from the television rights deal with Turner. That figure does not include the revenue generated from ticket sales, concessions, parking, jersey and merchandising. In a few years, the deal with Turner will clear $1 billion annually.
“NCAA sports is financially rich, but morally bankrupt,” said Ramogi Huma, National College Players Association Executive Director and President of the College Athletes Players Association. “Coaches and administrators enjoy multi-million dollar salaries generated from the blood, sweat and brain damage of their athletes.”
The bill adopts language from the Nation Labor Relations Board General Counsel memorandum under President Obama declaring that college athletes are employees with the right to self-organization and to be protected from retaliation while they are engaged in concerted activities for mutual aid and protection. This provision in Assembly Bill 2747 would allow players to unionize.
“Before these students are athletes, they are human beings and shouldn’t be treated as second class citizens,” said Huma. “With the introduction of this bill, there’s hope for justice.”
Though the bill is intended to create reform, there is a long road ahead from its proposal to enactment and enforceability.
“We think it’s the appropriate first step,” said Holden. “We’re trying to get the NCAA to do the right thing.”