Protecting our Student-Athletes

While many of our student-athletes excel on and off the field, the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems have also confronted a series of disappointing academic-performance metrics, including a 2013 report revealing that UC Berkeley's football and men's basketball teams held the nation's worst graduation rates among all seventy-two schools boasting top-tier intercollegiate athletics teams. Moreover, NCAA records show that only 1.6 percent of college football players and 1.1 percent of college basketball players (men's) will advance into professional careers in the NFL and NBA. Our student-athletes must be able to fall back on their degree.

After leading opposition to an underwhelming proposal that sought to respond to these disproportionately low graduation rates at the UC, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom - in concert with UC President Janet Napolitano - proposed and passed a 14-point plan designed to improve student-athlete graduation rates and strengthen student-athlete general welfare.

This package of reforms, which scales best practices from individual campuses, represents the first time UC has implemented a series of system-wide benchmarks, reaching beyond the baselines of NCAA requirements. Among the policies and principles:

  • Athletic Directors shall report directly to the Chancellor of their campus;
  • Academic performance should be a central element of annual performance evaluations for athletic directors and all athletic coaches;
  • Athletic coaches should have no decision-making authority in the final admissions of student-athletes;
  • Academically at-risk student-athletes should be required to meet with academic counselors regularly;
  • Students sustaining a career-ending injury while participating in intercollegiate athletics shall be provided with an equivalent grant or scholarship to finish his/her degree.

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Press Releases

Lt. Governor Newsom Calls for Student-Athlete Reforms at CSU, Following NCAA Reprimand
(12.9.16)

14-Point Plan to Improve U.C. Student-Athlete Policies
(5.10.16)

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Calls for UC Regent Vote on New "Lower-than-Last" Student-Athlete Academic Standards
(1.21.15)

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Statement on UC Berkeley's Last Place Pac-12 Run
(10.28.14)

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Statement on UC Berkeley Chancellor's Task Force on Academics and Athletics
(9.26.14)

Articles

The Guardian (UC San Diego): UC campuses to guarantee scholarships for athletes facing career-ending injuries (5.20.16)

Daily Californian (UC Berkeley): UC regents approve reforms to student-athlete policies (5.12.16)

Sacramento Bee Editorial: Gavin Newsom places his stamp on UC sports policy; it's a start (5.11.16)

Los Angeles Times: UC regents are frustrated that campuses haven't made bigger strides on diversity (5.11.16)

Daily Nexus (UCSB): UC looks to increase athlete graduation (5.11.16)

The Guardian (UC San Diego): UC campuses to guarantee scholarships for athletes facing career-ending injuries (5.20.16)

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