Bill seeks to ease stress on injured athletes

Religious Trojan football fans might remember the setbacks fullback Ryan Powdrell experienced following his broken ankle in ‘06, an injury that took him out for the remainder of the season.

Powdrell went on to play again in the NFL, but many athletes aren’t as fortunate. Often times, an injury as pedestrian as Powdrell’s broken bone can be enough to endanger an athlete’s promising career.

Debilitating injuries occasionally sustained by student-athletes not only break their spirits and bones, but can also break their banks: post-injury, many powerhouse universities choose to discontinue students’ athletic scholarships, forcing student-athletes and their families to pay full medical expenses and tuition to a school their son or daughter no longer plays for.

In response to these situations, State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) authored Senate Bill 1525, the “Student-Athlete Bill of Rights,” to ease the financial burden on injured student-athletes at USC and at other California universities.

Padilla’s bill applies to California university athletics programs with annual media revenues greater than $10 million. If it passes the legislature and is signed into law, the bill would mandate that athletic programs provide equivalent academic scholarships to injured student-athletes, as well as subsidies for their medical care.

“Neither personal injury nor poverty should dim the dreams of a student-athlete pursuing a college degree,” Padilla said. “I am a legislator in California. and I have a duty to protect all Californians — including student athletes in our colleges and universities.”

This bill, if made a reality, would impact USC, as well as Stanford University, UC Berkeley and UCLA’s athletic programs, and force the schools to fund programs solely through their media revenue. The USC athletic department did not respond to requests for comment, but the Sacramento Bee reported that the university only recently withdrew opposition to the bill.

Some in the USC community wonder how this bill could alter the future of Trojan athletics. Many, like Jordyn Holman, a freshman majoring in print and digital journalism, believe that the bill would be a much-needed expenditure for California collegiate athletics programs.

“It is a university’s responsibility to take care of their students. Schools bring athletes to their programs not only to win games but also to get an education,” Holman said. “This mandate would add an extra level of security for athletes and would alleviate the stigma of being washed-out.”

As an exciting USC football season approaches, and just after more than 35 Trojan athletes competed for Olympic gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games, students like freshman biological sciences major Kaitlin McGillivray remain hopeful about the fate of SB 1525.

An avid follower of Trojan athletics, McGillivray sees the bill as a way to further connect USC’s top-notch academic and athletic reputations.

“Athletics at USC are something to be proud of,” McGillivray said. “The sheer number of Trojan fans across the world speaks volumes of the caliber of the athletics department.”