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Bill Would Allow College Athletes to Unionize

Andy Berg

California assemblyman Chris Holden (D-San Gabriel Valley) has introduced legislation that would protect college athletes from what he says are “harmful" NCAA policies.

The College Athletes' Civil Rights Act of 2018 (A.B. 2747) would allow college athletes to self-organize, create the possibility of the “Olympic Model” to allow athletes to profit from their likeness, and help protect them from abuses by college coaches, trainers, and other athletic staff. 

If adopted, the legislation would be the first law in the country to regulate the NCAA.

“College athletes are playing in an exploitive system where the NCAA makes billions in profits while they are forced to pursue higher education without the same rights and financial freedoms as any other student on campus,” Holden said in a statement. “These athletes are not able to self-organize like any other student group on campus, and can face retaliation by university officials and coaching staff for expressing their opinions or reporting any abuses. 

From AB: Ruling: Northwestern Players Cannot Unionize 

Aside from allowing players to profit from their likeness through sponsorships, the bill would include language allowing college athletes to unionize. The legislation also includes provisions that could protect student-athletes from sexual assault by requiring that all NCAA employees, coaching staff, and other university officials report abuses to law enforcement.

Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association and president of the College Athletes Players Association, said the legislation is long overdue. "NCAA sports is a predatory industry. It investigates and punishes players who receive a few dollars for an autograph but is nowhere to be found when players are abused or die in hazardous workout conditions,” he said. “The ability to self-organize without retaliation can be the difference between life and death.”

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