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California bill calls for revenue sharing in college sports

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/politics-sports-california-state-government-chris-holden-san-diego-699825d02972aeb2a2b0ab854b5b843f

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A 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.

“I know how close you can come to an injury taking away not only the game you love to play but also your opportunity to finish college,” Holden said at a news conference outside the historic Rose Bowl stadium.

California was the first state to pass a law that gave college athletes the right to be compensated for name, image and likeness back in 2019. That triggered similar action by state legislatures around the country.

Holden is eager for the state to be at the forefront again.

“I’m not prepared to wait for Congress to address this pressing issue,” he said, standing in front of a bronze statue of Jackie Robinson, who was a multi-sport star at UCLA. “This is an extremely competitive and comprehensive bill that I believe will provide the income and health services that our college athletes deserve.”

The NCAA lifted its ban on athletes cashing in on their fame with sponsorship and endorsement deals, but more than two dozen state-level NIL laws have made it impossible for the association to create detailed and uniform rules of its own.

Just last week at the NCAA convention, college sports leaders reiterated the need for Congress’ help in regulating NIL compensation and protecting the association from state laws that undercut its ability to govern college sports.

“We need to solidify that as it relates to college sports, federal law preempts state law,” Baylor President Linda Livingstone, the chairwoman of the NCAA’s Board of Governors, said last week. “In areas such as NIL, we already see that state legislators will take action that they believe will give the universities in their states a competitive edge over their neighbors.”

Assembly Bill 252 — introduced by Holden, a Democrat 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.

“It’s a bill that will end the blatant exploitation of California’s college athletes,” said Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association. “The NCAA’s economic model is illegal and based on racial injustice. The NCAA uses amateurism as cover to systemically strip generational wealth from predominantly Black athletes from lower income households to pay for lavish salaries of predominantly white coaches, athletic directors, commissioners and NCAA administrators.”

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.

“It’s going to improve things, not only for football players, but for all student-athletes at the college level, which is great,” said Elisha Guidry, a graduate student and football player at San Jose State, who joined Holden in announcing the bill.

“I came here and college sports was a certain way and I’d like to think when I’m finished with my career that college sports are better and moving towards a better direction in the future,” said Guidry, who previously played at UCLA before graduating last year.

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.

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.

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Russo reported from New York.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25

Source: https://apnews.com/article/politics-sports-california-state-government-chris-holden-san-diego-699825d02972aeb2a2b0ab854b5b843f

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Report: NWSL to expand in Boston, Utah and California

The National Women’s Soccer League is close to expanding by three teams, which will be in Boston, Utah and the San Francisco area, according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The women’s pro league previously indicated it would add at least two teams by 2024. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the franchises in northern California and Utah are set to start play next year, with Boston to join at a later date.

The NWSL did not confirm the report in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, saying: “We remain engaged in our expansion process and are excited about our prospects. When we have news to share, we will do so.”

The NWSL has 12 teams, after Angel City in Los Angeles and the San Diego Wave joined the league last year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Boston and Bay Area groups will pay about $50 million in franchise fees. The Utah team will pay a reduced fee because of a previous agreement struck when the Utah Royals folded in the 2020 season.

Before the NWSL draft earlier this month, league commissioner Jessica Berman said it would be “somewhere between days and months, more like weeks, when we’ll be in a position to share information” about an expansion.

“What I can say is that I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we have in front of us,” she added.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Former MVP Candace Parker to sign with champion Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former two-time MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Parker spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown Sky, leading Chicago to the WNBA championship in 2021. She also won the 2016 title playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

She posted on Instagram that Chicago would always be her home, but “my family’s home is on the west coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday, and the Aces can’t comment until then.

Parker, a 6-foot-4 forward/center, adds to an already loaded lineup that includes reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who also won the league’s top award in 2020. Wilson also was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chelsea Gray was MVP of the WNBA Finals and Kelsey Plum MVP of the All-Star Game. Wilson, Plum and Jackie Young were All-Star starters.

Parker and Gray were teammates on Los Angeles’ 2016 title team.

The Aces traded one of their key pieces, two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, to the Sparks on Jan. 21, creating speculation Las Vegas was creating salary cap room to sign a big-name player.

Parker, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2016 Finals MVP, certainly fits that bill. Even at 36 last season, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Chicago coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

Losing her is a big blow to the Sky, who made the semifinals in last season’s playoffs before losing in five games to the Connecticut Sun. Kahleah Copper is the only starter under contract for next season, so the Sky could head into a rebuild.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker posted.

Parker joins the Aces at a time the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said it wanted that organization investigated regarding allegations that Hamby made after being traded. She posted on Instagram she was “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” because she is pregnant with her second child.

The Aces still have not commented on Hamby’s allegations.

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Estrada, Hofstra end No. 18 Charleston’s 20-game win streak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — This season, Hofstra has been a one-man show. This time, Aaron Estrada had some help as the Pride ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

Estrada scored 25 points, but just two in the second half, while Darlinestone Dubar added 18 as Hofstra had four players in double figures to knock off No. 18 College of Charleston 85-81 on Saturday — ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.

“That’s a really big for our program,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said. “To beat a nationally ranked team on their home court when they’ve got it rolling like they do speaks volumes about our kids.”

Claxton saw a team effort to take down the hottest team in the country.

“It wasn’t just Aaron,” Claxton said. “He had a great first half, but we had other guys step up and make baskets or get rebounds when we really needed them.”

The loss ended Charleston’s spotless run that began after losing to then-top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Hofstra, the CAA’s leader in field-goal shooting, used that to move past Charleston in the second half as it made 18 of 32 attempts. The Pride led 76-69 with 6:10 to play before the Cougars cut it to two points on Ryan Larson’s foul shots with 2:02 to play.

But Charleston managed just two free throws after that and missed all four 3-pointers they tried.

This is the second straight season the Pride have beaten a Top 25 team. A year ago, Hofstra defeated then No. 24 Arkansas 89-81. The Pride’s only other victory against a Top 25 team came against Southern Illinois in 1976.

Hofstra (15-8, 8-2 Colonial Athletic Association) beat the Cougars (21-2, 9-1) at their own game — 3-point shooting. The Pride were 11 of 22 from 3-point range and overall shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half.

Estrada, who had 23 points in the opening half, shredded the Cougars defense at will. Estrada was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

“Estrada is a great player, hit a bunch of tough shots, especially in the first half,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. “Hofstra is a very, very talented team. It’s not just Estrada. They were better than us tonight.”

Then Estrada took over. The CAA’s leading scorer at 21.1 points a game scored 16 of the next 24 points for the Pride, including four 3-pointers.

Ante Brzovic’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage at halftime.

Tyler Thomas had 17 points and eight rebounds for Hofstra.

Brzovic finished with 18 points to lead the Cougars.

BIG PICTURE

Hofstra: The Pride are on a roll in 2023. winning seven of their past eight games, including three in a row.

College of Charleston: The Cougars chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid took a major blow with the loss to the Pride. Despite having the nation’s longest win streak for three months, Charleston will most likely have to win the CAA Tournament in March to advance to the NCAAs.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

The Cougars’ 20-game win streak wasn’t the only streak to end on Saturday. College of Charleston played 14 of its first 23 games at TD Arena to start the season and were a perfect 13-0 at home before facing the Pride. Charleston’s 13-game home win streak included three wins in the Charleston Classic. The Cougars became the first mid-major program to win the ESPN event, beating Virginia Tech 77-75 in the championship game. Charleston will finish the season playing four of their final eight games on the road.

POLL POSITION

Charleston’s first loss in nearly three months might drop the Cougars from the national rankings. They have been part of the last four rankings, entering at No. 23 before reaching No. 18 this past week.

UP NEXT

Hofstra returns home to play Towson on Thursday night.

College of Charleston starts a two-game road trip at Drexel on Thursday night.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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