On Thursday, California Assembly Member Chris Holden introduced the College Athlete Protection Act (“Act”). The Act will require California colleges and universities to split annual revenue with student-athletes. Additionally, the Act is similar to the College Athlete Race and Gender Equity Act introduced last year, which ultimately failed to pass.
Under the College Athlete Protection Act, California colleges and universities must establish a degree completion fund for student-athletes in revenue-generating sports, including football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball. From the degree completion fund, colleges and universities must pay up to $25,000 per student-athlete per year, depending on the amount of revenue earned by the college or university.
If the amount an athlete earns exceeds $25,000, the institution retains the funds until the student-athlete graduates. If the student-athlete does not graduate within six years of full-time enrollment, the student-athlete forfeits the funds.
Importantly, the Act does not designate student-athletes as employees, institutions must comply with Title IX proportionality requirements for degree completion funds, and the portion of the Act governing degree completion funds only applies to Division I sports.
Other notable parts of the Act require the development of College Athlete Protection Health and Safety Standards, which California colleges and universities will have to follow once established. Institutions will be responsible for sports-related medical expenses even after a student-athlete has left the college or university.
California led the way on name, image, and likeness, which ultimately forced the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to change its rules. Now, California is pushing to allow colleges and universities to directly pay athletes and alter the NCAA’s ban on “pay-for-play.”