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California lawmaker calls for better protection of student athletes

April 05, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware answers questions during a news conference at the school's KFC Yum! Center practice facility.
University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware answers questions… (Timothy D. Easley / Associated…)

The gruesome leg injury to University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware has one California lawmaker calling for better financial protections for student athletes nationwide.

In a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) said the group should at least adopt standards in a new California law.

The measure, which took effect Jan. 1, requires universities that make a certain amount of money from television deals to provide the equivalent of academic scholarships to athletes whose injuries result in them losing their athletic scholarships.

The measure also requires the top schools to pay the healthcare premiums for low-income student athletes and cover all deductibles for injuries related to participation in an intercollegiate sport program.

"Neither injury nor poverty should dim the dreams of a student-athlete pursuing a college degree, particularly when their performance has enriched their college and the NCAA," Padilla wrote in the letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert.

The lawmaker said the NCAA currently does not require its member schools to pay for medical coverage or provide continued academic support for injured student-athletes.

The injury to Ware, who broke his leg during this year's NCAA tournament, "is a disturbing reminder that the NCAA lacks the most basic protections and guarantees that would help injured student-athletes complete their education," he said.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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