Lt. Governor Newsom calls for student-athlete reforms at CSU, following NCAA reprimand

Newsom spearheaded UC reforms, looks at Cal State to follow suit


SACRAMENTO - Lt. Governor and California State University (CSU) Trustee Gavin Newsom today appealed to the CSU system to review practices in its athletics departments following the NCAA's censure of Cal State Northridge (CSUN), which was handed a three-year probation for academic fraud within the university's basketball program.

Earlier this year, Lt. Governor Newsom - in concert with University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano - ushered in a 14-point plan designed to improve student-athlete graduation rates and general welfare in the UC system. The CSU, however, has yet to follow suit and CSUN President Dianne Harrison has described the relationship between CSUN's athletics and academic departments as "dysfunctional", per an NCAA report.

"CSU's student-athletes are offered an education in return for physical and career sacrifices, to the financial benefit of the schools they represent and the spirit of community identity that their dedication fosters," said Lt. Governor Newsom in a letter to CSU Chancellor Tim White. "The troubling data suggests that some public CSU campuses are failing to uphold their end of the deal... I invite the Board of Trustees to consider the matter at its next meeting and establish a Chancellor's Task Force on Athletics with my office, to identify and implement best practices."

Lt. Governor Newsom wrote to the CSU in August 2014, expressing concern about athletic departments' contracts that neglected academic performance, and academic underachievement in several athletics programs. Fewer than 2 percent of student-athletes go onto the NBA or NFL and only 21-percent of CSU's Division I basketball and football programs exceeded the NCAA Division I national Academic Performance Rate (APR) average in 2014-15, the last year that data is available.

Data shows that none of CSU's Division I football programs are performing above the 2014-2015 Division I national APR average, and the men's basketball programs at CSU Fresno, San Jose, and Bakersfield have failed to exceed Division I's national APR average in each of the last five data years. Across the board, the number of CSU Division I basketball and football programs exceeding the national Division I APR average has halved since 2010-11. Three of CSU's Division I basketball and football programs have been penalized by the NCAA in recent years.

Responding to disproportionately low graduation rates of some athletics programs at the UC in recent years, Lt. Governor Newsom spearheaded a 14-point plan earlier this year, designed to improve student-athlete graduation rates at the UC. That package of reforms implemented a series of system-wide benchmarks reaching beyond the baselines of NCAA requirements. The plan addressed administrative accountability, admissions, financial support, injury support, academic and career support, and student life. Lt. Governor Newsom now proposes that the CSU conduct a similar review, beginning with a discussion at the Board of Trustees in the new year and establishing a Task Force on Athletics to identify and scale statewide best practices that may already be in place at some campuses or programs.

The Lt. Governor's letter to Chancellor White, along with additional data on the academic performance of CSU's Division I basketball and athletics programs, can be found at: