Of sports and scofflaws
I was shocked when I read these news articles (here and here), which spotlight an apparent end-run around the California law I proposed and helped pass.*
Nobody is above the law — not athletes, not their coaches, and certainly not publicly-funded academic institutions and athletic associations. As Governor Schwarzenegger suggested at the signing ceremony, we’re all equally responsible for upholding this piece of legislation.
I spoke many times on the bill’s behalf — before college representatives and state legislators, among others. The legislative process was open to public testimony, pro and con, but I don’t recall the proposed bill being openly challenged by the individuals cited in the aforementioned articles. The final vote was nearly unanimous, in favor of the proposed legislation. (There was only one ‘no’ vote, which is almost unheard of.) And many elected officials, dignitaries, and public safety groups (pdf) gave their full support for the bill’s passage. As one legislative committee member said, “This is a no brainer, isn’t it?”
So why hasn’t this story been widely publicized? I wish the involved parties would be more forthcoming (pdf), and that the underlying issues would get broader exposure. More daylight, please, like this. And I hope an appropriate measure of accountability is meted out to anyone who’s found guilty of flagrantly violating, or surruptitiously circumventing, this law.
*In brief, Section 67362, which was added to the California Education Code, prevents college athletes who have been convicted of a violent felony from playing college team sports until after they complete their terms of incarceration and any supervised period of parole or probation. NOTE: It does not prevent in any way their participation in educational opportunities and co-curricular events available to all eligible students.