PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Southern California lawmaker introduced a bill Thursday that would require schools that play major college sports to pay some athletes as much as $25,000 annually, along with covering the cost of six-year guaranteed athletic scholarships and post-college medical expenses.
The College Athlete Protection Act is sponsored by Assemblymember Chris Holden, who is a former San Diego State basketball player, and is the type of state-level legislation that the NCAA is looking to federal lawmakers to preempt.
"We needed sort of a more holistic bill of rights for these athletes," he said.
Assembly Bill 252 - introduced by Holden, whose district includes Pasadena - calls for Division I schools in California to share 50% of revenue with athletes who are considered to be undervalued because the amount of their athletic scholarships doesn't match their market value.
That would mostly be aimed at athletes competing in the revenue-generating sports such as football and basketball, but not exclusively.
Money paid toward scholarships would be included in the 50% that goes toward the players. The rest would go into a fund that would pay out yearly. Individual payments would be determined based on what schools bring in and could not exceed $25,000 per year for any one athlete.
Any excess revenue from the athletes' share would go into a degree completion fund that athletes would be eligible to draw from after they have graduated within six years.
"When you come to the game, and I mean you leave and go back home, you know, to your day job or whatever you have to do but, us college athletes, we've got to go back," said San Jose State football player Elisha Guidry. "We may have homework, we may have a midterm we're studying for, we have a lot that builds up."
The bill also calls for schools to provide coverage of sports-related medical expenses, establish and enforce safety standards and transparency in recruiting, preserve all sports programs - not just those that produce revenue - and Title IX compliance.
"I think health and safety is number one," said said Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association. "It's been just terrible seeing so many tragedies from deaths, you know, here in California, sexual assaults, and just a lot of carnage. A lot players with broken bodies being pushed back into the games."
From 2008 to 2018, California Division 1 schools saw revenues explode from $269 million to $640 million. A recent study also showed the average Division 1 athlete invests nearly 50 hours a week in training for their sport.
Also joining Holden at the Rose Bowl was Amy LeClair, a 2017 San Jose State graduate who competed in gymnastics. She said she was bullied and manipulated by her coaches, and was sexually assaulted by the program's head trainer during her career.
"Universities have not earned the privilege of operating unchecked nor have they earned the benefit of the doubt," LeClair said. "I never imagined that the very system designed to protect me would be the source of my exploitation. This is what has driven me to sit here today to help advocate for the protections of NCAA athletes."
The bill is reminiscent of one introduced in 2020 at the federal level by four Democratic senators, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, called the College Athlete Bill of Rights.
That bill, similar to numerous others introduced in Congress related to college sports and more specifically NIL, went nowhere.
Holden introduced the College Athlete Civil Rights Act of 2019 that was eventually signed into state law. That required schools to document and inform athletes of their rights and prohibited retaliation against athletes who reported violations or abuse.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.