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AB-1435 The Athlete Protection Act.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 02/17/2017 09:00 PM
AB1435:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1435


Introduced by Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher

February 17, 2017


An act to add Chapter 15.8 (commencing with Section 67394) to Part 40 of Division 5 of Title 3 of the Education Code, relating to student athletes, and making an appropriation therefor.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1435, as introduced, Gonzalez Fletcher. The Athlete Protection Act.
Existing law provides for a system of postsecondary education in this state. This system includes the University of California, administered by the Regents of the University of California, the California State University, administered by the Trustees of the California State University, the California Community Colleges, administered by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, and independent institutions of higher education. Existing law further provides a Student Athlete Bill of Rights.
This bill would establish the Athlete Protection Act under the administration of the Athlete Protection Commission, which would be establish by the bill, for the protection of college or university athletes participating in intercollegiate athletic programs offered by institutions of higher education located in California. The act would charge the commission with specified duties related to the protection of these athletes and would subject individuals who commit violations of the act to penalties, which may include civil liability or a temporary or permanent prohibition from employment at institutions of higher education, pursuant to regulations to be adopted by the commission. The bill would make the provisions of the Athlete Protection Act severable.
This bill would require an athletic conference, as defined, and an institution of higher education located in California with an intercollegiate athletic program that does not belong to an athletic conference to pay regulatory fees, as determined by the commission, to be deposited in the Athlete Protection Act Fund, which this bill would establish. The bill would continuously appropriate the moneys in the fund to the commission for the purposes of the Athlete Protect Act.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 15.8 (commencing with Section 67394) is added to Part 40 of Division 5 of Title 3 of the Education Code, to read:
CHAPTER  15.8. The Athlete Protection Act
Article  1. Title

67394.
 This chapter shall be known, and may be cited, as the Athlete Protection Act.

Article  2. Findings

67394.1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Maximizing safety, transparency, and a quality education for intercollegiate athletes should be a priority for intercollegiate sports programs, conferences, and associations.
(b) The National Football League admits that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a serious and degenerative neurological disease, is linked to playing football; and college football players are at risk.
(c) The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was originally founded to protect intercollegiate athletes, but now it denies that it has a duty to protect them, refuses to mandate comprehensive best practices regarding CTE and other serious injuries, and fails to enact remedies when made aware of athlete abuse.
(d) Athletic conferences and athletic associations fail to adopt and enforce comprehensive best practices to reduce the risk of CTE, hazards associated with the misuse of prescription pain killers, and other serious injuries.
(e) Intercollegiate sports programs, including coaches and team medical staff, have a conflict of interest that can result in pressuring athletes to compete with serious injuries and in life-threatening situations.
(f) Coaches often pressure trainers to return concussed players to the same game in which they are concussed, and almost one-half of athletic trainers surveyed report doing so.
(g) Intercollegiate athletes can be threatened with retaliation if they resist or report a coach’s demand for them to play with a serious injury or confront an athletic staff’s abusive behavior.
(h) Colleges often mishandle investigations of abuse, as evidenced by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigations of over 120 colleges for mishandling claims of student sexual abuse. More than 10 of the colleges investigated are located in California.
(i) Intercollegiate athletes participating in sports with current and historically low graduation rates spend 40 hours or more per week for their sports.
(j) Athletic conferences have among the worst academic gaps between regular students and baseball, basketball, and football players competing in Division I of the NCAA.
(k) A lack of safeguards will continue to subject college athletes to higher risks of poor graduation rates, serious injury, and death.

Article  3. Definitions

67394.2.
 For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) “Athletic association” means an association of athletic conferences or institutions of higher education.
(b) “Athletic conference” means an entity comprised of institutions of higher education that is a member of an athletic association.
(c) “Athletic program” means an intercollegiate athletic program at an institution of higher education. Club and intramural programs are excluded.
(d) “College athlete” means a college or university student that participates in an athletic program.
(e) “Commission” means the Athlete Protection Commission established pursuant to Section 67394.3.
(f) “Institution of higher education” means, notwithstanding Section 67400, a campus of the University of California, the California State University, a four-year private university or independent institution of higher education located in California, or a public or private two-year college located in California that maintains an athletic program.
(g) “Personnel” means one or more representatives of an athletic association, an athletic conference, or an institution of higher education who is an athletics employee, coach, assistant, or affiliated health care professional. Personnel also includes intercollegiate athletics stakeholders contracted with an athletic association, an athletic conference, or an institution of higher education.

Article  4. Athlete Protection Commission

67394.3.
 (a) The Athlete Protection Commission is hereby established for the administration of this act.
(b) (1) The members of the commission shall be appointed as follows:
(A) Three members appointed by the Governor.
(B) Three members appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
(C) Three members appointed by the President pro Tempore of the Senate.
(2) (A) The commission members appointed pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be part-time positions. One member shall be appointed by majority vote of the members to serve as chair of the commission. There shall be one member appointed with expertise for each of the following areas:
(i) Sports medicine.
(ii) Traumatic brain injury in contact sports.
(iii) Athletic strength and conditioning training.
(iv) Athlete abuse.
(v) College academic advising.
(vi) College athletics governance and reform.
(vii) Sports economics.
(viii) Athlete protection advocacy. The member appointed pursuant to this clause shall be a former female college athlete.
(ix) Athlete protection advocacy. The member appointed pursuant to this clause shall be a former male college athlete.
(B) The commission shall appoint, by majority vote of its members, an executive director. The executive director shall be a full-time position. The executive director shall appoint commission staff to assist him or her and the commission during his or her term of office.
(C) Each commission member and the executive director shall be appointed to serve a four-year term of office, with no term limits. The member and the executive director may be reappointed to his or her position, or a new position, pursuant to this subdivision.
(D) No appointee pursuant to this subdivision shall have served as personnel within the 10 years immediately preceding his or her appointment.

67394.4.
 (a) The commission shall have all of the following duties:
(1) Gather input from relevant stakeholders to establish, and disseminate to every athletic association, athletic conference, and institution of higher education, both of the following:
(A) Best practices to minimize injuries and ensure transparency of injury treatment options.
(B) Up-to-date information about pivotal sports-related health risks.
(2) Develop policy guidelines and mandates. These guidelines and mandates, at minimum, shall ensure that all of the following occurs:
(A) Every institution of higher education maintains accurate medical records for each of its college athletes, and provides the athlete with access to his or her medical records.
(B) Every college athlete receives adequate time to study, has freedom to pursue an academic major or majors of his or her choice without pressure, and completes one or more postsecondary degree programs.
(C) There is transparency on college athlete protections and the prevention of deceptive or fraudulent business practices that harm college athletes.
(3) Conduct surveys of college athletes and personnel.
(4) Perform compliance inspections as determined by the commission.
(5) Exercise subpoena power, if necessary, to obtain useful information to carry out its duties under this chapter.
(6) Hold quarterly meetings.
(7) Distribute, commencing in 2019, on or before January 1 of each year, an annual report to each institution of higher education, athletic conference, and athletic association and to the Legislature, pursuant to Section 9795 of the Government Code, regarding the state of college athlete protections under this chapter.
(8) Determine which of its guidelines, materials, and other information may benefit high school athletes, high school sports programs, and the California Interscholastic Federation, and make them available and easily accessible to the public.
(9) Consider collaborative and cost-reduction efforts with other states, intercollegiate sports conferences and associations that are not comprised of at least one institution of higher education, and higher education institutions with intercollegiate sports programs that are not located in California to improve the treatment of intercollegiate athletes in other states.
(10) Create advisory boards, as needed, comprised of individuals and organizations with expertise relevant to the implementation of this chapter.
(11) Use fees continuously appropriated to it from the Athlete Protection Act Fund, established in subdivision (b) of Section 67394.7, to execute its duties under this chapter.
(12) Develop processes for it to receive, track, and investigate complaints regarding suspected violations of this chapter.
(13) Issue penalties pursuant to Section 67394.6 and remedies for violations of this chapter.
(b) Until the commission receives fees pursuant to Section 67394.7, the commission shall only have the power to perform its functions under this chapter that do not incur costs to the commission.
(c) The commission shall adopt regulations to implement this chapter.

Article  5. College Athlete Protections

67394.5.
 (a) Individuals, including college athletes or other students, who report suspected violations of this chapter shall have whistleblower protection. Personnel who retaliate against these individuals shall be subject to penalties pursuant to Section 67394.6.
(b) Personnel who knowingly provide false information or attempt to obstruct an investigation by the commission of a violation of this chapter shall be subject to penalties pursuant to Section 67394.6.
(c) Personnel that reduces or cancels the athletic participation or eligibility of, imposes a financial penalty or penalties on, or otherwise retaliates against, a college athlete, an institution of higher education, an athletic conference, or an athletic association, or other personnel for complying with this chapter shall be subject to penalties pursuant to Section 67394.6.
(d) (1) By February 15, 2018, personnel shall be deemed mandated reporters required to report each instance of reasonably suspected violations of this chapter to the commission. Personnel failing to comply with mandated reporting requirements shall be subject to penalties pursuant to Section 67394.6.
(2) All reports of suspected violations of this chapter before the commission commences its initial operations shall be made to the Department of Justice and directly forwarded by the department to the commission once it commences its initial operations.
(e) (1) By February 15, 2018, each institution of higher education, athletic conference, and athletic association shall comply with all of the following:
(A) Inform their personnel of their responsibilities and college athlete protections established by or pursuant to this chapter.
(B) Inform college athletes of their rights and protections under this chapter, including all guidelines and mandates adopted by the commission pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 67394.4, if any, and inform them of their right to report suspected violations of this chapter to a mandated reporter of their choice pursuant to subdivision (d), the Department of Justice, or the commission once it commences its initial operations.
(C) Designate at least one employee to oversee compliance with this chapter and to serve as a point of contact for the commission.
(2) Each institution of higher education, athletic conference, and athletic association shall annually inform their personnel and college athletes pursuant to subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) before the start of each academic year.

67394.6.
 (a) An individual who commits a violation of this chapter shall be subject to penalties established pursuant to regulations adopted by the commission. Penalties may include any, or any combination, including all, of the following:
(1) Civil liability.
(2) Temporary or permanent prohibition from employment at institutions of higher education.
(3) Other penalties imposed by the commission.
(b) Contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2018, that would provide any form of compensation to an individual who is under suspension or termination of his or her employment for violation of this chapter are void.

Article  6. Financial Provisions

67394.7.
 (a) (1) An athletic conference and an institution of higher education with an athletic program that does not belong to an athletic conference shall pay annual fees, in an amount determined by the commission to cover the reasonable regulatory costs of this chapter, to be deposited in the Athlete Protection Act Fund established in subdivision (b).
(2) To the greatest extent feasible, the fees assessed pursuant to this section shall not be paid with new or increased student fees. An athletic conference or institution of higher education that refuses to pay the fees, or uses accounting maneuvers in an attempt to avoid paying the fees, shall be in violation of this chapter and shall be subject to penalties pursuant to Section 67394.6.
(b) The Athlete Protection Act Fund is hereby established in the State Treasury under the administration of the State Treasurer’s Public Finance Division. Fees received pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be deposited in the fund and continuously appropriated to the commission for the purposes of this chapter.

Article  7. Miscellaneous

67394.8.
 The provisions of this chapter are severable. If any provision of this chapter or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.