Team USA Athletes' Commission Advocacy

California ABA 252

    “Athletes across every sport make a lasting impact on their schools by putting in years of dedication and sacrifice to get there – and then pave the way for the next generation to compete. We must work to safeguard our current system, one where aspiring athletes receive equitable opportunities, facilities, participation, and funding in all sports."

    Natalie Coughlin and Summer Sanders, Team USA Athletes

    The Team USA Athletes’ Commission (Team USA AC) serves as the representative group and voice of Team USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes (approximately 5,000 athletes), in conjunction with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), has been tracking California Assembly Bill 252, which attempts to redirect athletic funding to student-athletes participating in sports with market value (football and basketball). The bill also includes elements that significantly impact the student-athlete experience. As written, the requirement to reallocate funding within an athletics department could result in loss of Olympic sports on campus, and with it, sport opportunities for thousands of student-athletes.

    We strongly oppose AB 252 for the reasons outlined below:

    AB 252 would threaten opportunities for most California student-athletes to train and compete. While AB 252 would provide degree completion funds to a small number of athletes, it does so in a way that could compromise funding to operate many other sports, making it impossible for thousands of athletes to compete in college, especially those competing in women’s sports.

    Amended version of AB 252 still puts student-athlete opportunities at risk, ignoring inflation and growing costs to support athletes. The recently amended version of AB 252 maintains funding “Option 2,” which calls for all new revenue above the 2021-2022 revenue baseline to be used for a degree completion fund. On the surface, this model seems to leave base funding for all sports programs untouched. However, this model fails to consider the cost of inflation to operate and manage programs, and assumes costs are static.

    AB 252 could impede California student-athletes training for 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. California universities are world-renown flagship institutions in the United States for many reasons, including academics and the strength and diversity of sports they offer. Many California universities proudly offer 20+ sport disciplines, including fencing, soccer, swimming, track and field, volleyball and water polo, among dozens of sports – providing immeasurable opportunities for student athletes of diverse backgrounds to excel and compete.

    Team USA athletes from California universities comprised 17% of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team at the last Games. We anticipate this trend will continue at the Olympic Games next summer in Paris and through the 2028 Games, when they return to home soil in Los Angeles.

    Without substantial revisions, AB 252 would disrupt funding for sport programs that support student-athletes seeking to compete in international sport, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Recent Title IX amendments to AB 252 do not guarantee funding protections for women and men’s sports. Though AB 252 states it would provide Title IX protections, it does not guarantee funding sources will remain intact for women’s and men’s sports, including the 15-20+ sport programs on each campus that depend on revenue from football and basketball to operate.

    •“Equal compensation” revisions to bill fail to ensure athlete population growth. Assemblymember Holden’s revisions to the bill calling for equal compensation for men and women athletes is a laudable goal but fails to account for funding to increase the number of future collegiate athletes in multiple sport disciplines.

    •Broader athlete community has not been adequately consulted. Assemblymember Holden and Ramogi Huma have not engaged with non-football or basketball athletes to ensure the needs of all California collegiate athletes are met. Even at the amendment stage, the sponsors of the bill have failed to adequately explain how AB 252 will not undermine funding to support athletes without cutting budgets sports or pulling funding from tuition and general revenue of colleges and universities.

    •AB 252 needs additional review and analysis before enactment. AB 252’s effects on collegiate sports, including women’s sports and Olympic sports need to be taken into account. The sponsors of the bill have failed to provide accurate statistics for the bill’s financial impact on the full athletics ecosystem. The bill also does not provide valid explanations as to how funding for all sport programs will be protected under the proposed financial model.

    Athlete Advocates

    Team USA Athletes supporting advocacy work against the ABA 252

    • Headshot of Natalie Coughlin

      Natalie Coughlin

      Twelve-Time Olympic Swimmer

      Natalie Coughlin is a three-time Olympian, and 12-time Olympic medalist. During her Olympic career, Natalie competed at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008, and London in 2012 where she won 3 gold, 4 silvers, and 5 bronze medals. Natalie is an alumna of the University of California, Berkeley, where she became Cal’s most decorated swimmer of all time and won 12 NCAA titles. Over her athletic career, she has won sixty medals in major international competition while competing at the Olympics, World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships, and the Pan American Games.

    • Headshot Alex Massialas

      Alex Massialas

      Three-Time Olympic Foil Fencer

      Alex Massialas is a three-time Olympic foil fencer and earned an individual silver medal and two team bronze medals. Alex has competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, and the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. He is a graduate of Stanford University, where he was a two-time NCAA All-American fencing champion, 11-time team Pan American champion, two-time individual Pan American champion, and 2019 team world champion.

    • Headshot Summer Sanders

      Summer Sanders

      Four-Time Olympic Swimmer

      Summer Sanders first came to international attention in 1989 when she won a silver medal in the 200 IM at the Pan Pacific Championship. In 1991 she won three gold medals at the Pan Pacs, in the 200 butterfly and both IMs. She also won three medals that year at the World Championships with a 200-fly gold medal, silver in the 200 IM, and bronze in the 400 IM. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Sanders won two golds and four medals, winning the 200 fly and on the medley relay, with silver in the 200 IM, and bronze in the 400 IM. Sanders swam at Stanford where she won nine NCAA championships, with six individual titles, two each in the 200 yd fly, the 200 IM, and the 400 IM. She won eight US Championships.

    • Headshot Kendall Spender

      Kendall Spencer

      Olympic Hopeful and Student-Athlete Advocate

      Kendall Spencer is a nationally recognized track and field athlete from California. He graduated from the University of New Mexico where he obtained multiple All-American honors and won the long jump at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Kendall was also a NACAC U23 long jump silver medalist for Team USA and was named first team All-American by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. Throughout his career, Kendall has advocated for the student-athletes at all levels of intercollegiate athletics and was the first student-athlete to serve on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.


    • Sacramento Bee: A California bill would result in detrimental consequences for female athletes

    How To Take Action

    • For More Information

      To learn more about the bill click here or to learn how to get involved email

    • Voice Opinion at the CA Senate

      Senate allows you to call in a “me too” (name, organization, and position). So the athletes are more than welcome to voice opposition. Guidance on phone system click here.

      • Senate Education Committee Hearing: Wednesday, July 5, 2023
      • Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: Tuesday, July 11, 2023
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