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NCAA Reform Legislation Moves Ahead Despite Warning

Plus, fallout from the two Democratic presidential debates.

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They get the injuries, the NCAA makes the money.
  • They get the injuries, the NCAA makes the money.

A bill that could dramatically change the lucrative business of college athletics passed its first hurdle in the Assembly. Sen. Nancy Skinner's legislation to allow student-athletes the right to be compensated for the use of their name and image likeness was approved by an Assembly committee last week. The bill gained passage out of the state Senate last May by a vote of 31-5.

The legislation, co-authored by Southern California Sen. Steven Bradford, was approved by the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee, 5-0.

Skinner told the committee the bill affords rights that other amateur athletes already hold. "It provides our college athletes the same rights as Olympic athletes, to receive a financial gain from their name, image, and likeness through sponsorships and endorsements." If any another billion-dollar business was exploiting students, such as she believes the NCAA is doing, there would a furious public outcry, Skinner added.

Tuesday's hearing came days after Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, which governs college athletics, issued a warning to state legislators that passage of the bill could result in California universities being excluded from NCAA championship events.

If approved and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the legislation would go into effect in 2023. Last May, the NCAA created a task force to study the issue of compensating student athletes.

Although most lower-tiered college sports do not create much revenue for universities, big-time sports such as football and men's and women's basketball are fueled by billion-dollar television rights deals and millions more in school-related hats, T-shirts, and jerseys.

Student-athletes, however, do not receive any portion of the financial windfall. In recent years, some have come to describe the dynamics as similar to a plantation owner and slave.

Swalwell Took Biden Quote Out of Context

Thirty-eight-year-old Eric Swalwell clearly had a set-piece ready for Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate with the intent of highlighting Joe Biden's age and his own youth.

"I was six years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said, 'It's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans.' That candidate was then-Sen. Joe Biden," Swalwell said. "Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He's still right today."

The problem, though, according to USA Today, is that Swalwell took Biden's words, uttered at the 1987 California Democratic Convention, out of context.

"It sounds corny, but remember how you used to feel?' Biden said 32 years ago. "Remember how you felt when you heard, 'Let the word go forth from this time and place' that 'the torch has been passed,' passed 'to a new generation of Americans'?"

His remarks were actually based on a quote from President Kennedy's 1961 inauguration address and not a call by Biden for older leaders, at the time, to relinquish power to a younger generation, as Swalwell suggested during Thursday's debate.

The exchange, along with another particularly devastating give-and-take between Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris over the issue of busing, reveals the inherent issues a candidate with such a lengthy and varying political record like Biden's faces when forced to confront votes and positions made in another era and within a different context.

Meanwhile, while Swalwell has one foot in the presidential ring but has already opened the door to a potential re-election bid to his congressional district, his potential successor — or perhaps challenger — is already co-opting his words.

Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab, currently the only major candidate in the race for Swalwell's congressional seat, sent a campaign email Friday morning demanding access to same torch for her generation. Although Swalwell, 38, is young, Wahab, at 31, is even younger.

"Last night's debate demonstrated that there is a real demand in this country for new leadership" said the fundraising email seeking to bolster campaign contributions before the June 30 mid-year filing deadline. "That's why Aisha is ready to carry the torch for the working people, families, and seniors in CA-15!"

The email which features a flaming torch and the phrase, "Help Aisha grab the torch," never mentions Swalwell, but hints at the unique political landscape in the 15th District.

In Other News ...

 Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods accused sheriff's deputies at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin of taking advantage of a software glitch to illegally record phone calls between inmates and their attorneys, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. ... Median home prices dropped by the largest percentage decreases in more than seven years, the Chron reported. ... Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo proposed legislation to close a portion of 37th Avenue for up to 18 months in order to clean up a homeless encampment near the Home Depot store in his district. ... The Alameda Unified School District hired Pasquale Scuderi of the Berkeley Unified School District as its next superintendent, the East Bay Times reported. ... Taj Reid, the son of Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid, was sentenced in U.S. District court to one year in prison for rigging a government bidding process in 2013 and bribery, SFGate reported. ...

Following her attention-grabbing performance in last week's debates, Sen. Kamala Harris surged to second place in a new CNN poll on Monday, Politico reported. Swalwell failed to register in the poll. ... Radiation testing was scheduled for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office Eden Township substation after at least five deputies were diagnosed with cancer, KTVU reported. ... The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved a budget last week that will allot $625 million for community-based organizations and $130 million to alleviate the homelessness problem, Bay City News reported. ... "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to dredge 13 miles of the bay in order to deepen a channel for ships carrying imported crude oil to four Bay Area refineries," KQED reported. ...

A canine influenza outbreak at the Oakland Animal Shelter is putting pressure on other East Bay shelters, including Berkeley's, which is now at full-capacity, Berkeleyside reported. Nearly two-thirds of the dogs in the Oakland shelter have come down with the infectious flu. ... End of an era, indeed. Within hours on Sunday, Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, the Warriors picked up point guard D'Angelo Russell, and traded away Andre Iguodala for draft picks. Splash brother Klay Thompson, though, is staying put.

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