Saturday, August 21, 2010

AB 2079 - Why California has a $19 billion deficit - Part 2

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson has moved from Senate to Assembly and would like to be California's next Superintendent of Public Instruction.  For the most part he is a decent guy. He has a bill this year which started out by trying to establish a new set of regulatory standards on how colleges and universities deal with student athletes in recruiting.  Some colleges do treat their athletes terribly. Most try to do well by their athletes.  Torlakson's original measure would have set California apart from the National Collegiate Athletic Association rules - which are very specific about how contact can be made between athletes and colleges.

The sponsor for this bill is a former UCLA football player who believes that college athletics should be a business.  He is heavily funded by organized labor.  He believes athletes should be treated as employees, with benefits and a salary.  The point of student athletes is that they should get a degree.  Too many student athletes are lured out of college in professional football and basketball before they finish their degrees.  They play for a couple of years and then are left without a degree.   That is wrong.  Making those student athletes look more like employees is not a way to improve the situation.   The risks of going the way of the UCLA guy and Torlakson comes from Major League baseball.  For a lot of reasons baseball players are recruited before they reach college or early in their college careers.   So how many degree holders among the 1200 or so players are there?  Just 42.   Sounds like a great long term career option.

The bill has been amended several times.  It has now been reduced to requiring colleges and universities to post on their website their recruiting practices.  One could easily say - what is wrong with that?  It won't cost the colleges and universities much.   But the answer is much more subtle.   The NCAA has a set of rules, which are constantly being updated.  The NCAA sets those standards and then enforces them.  There is no tax money supporting the NCAA and more importantly, the group seems to be responsive to trying to balance the needs of student athletes and institutions.   So if that is already in place what is the need to set up a new law which would codify what most institutions do already?   I can't figure it out either.

The Goldwater Institute released a study this week that suggested in the last decade and a half administrators on college campuses have grown at a faster rate than students.   A good part of the reason is from bills like AB 2079.   AB 2079 is not a bad idea, it is just unnecessary, duplicative, cost adding - let me reconsider, yes it is a bad bill.

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