Alex Padilla, Darrell Steinberg

Bill to require California-based Pac-12 schools to support athletes passes state senate

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Much has been made about whether or not student-athletes receive as much support as they should from the schools the play for.

On Thursday, California took what could be an important step in that regard as a bill requiring the state’s Pac-12 schools to offer greater support was approved by the California state Senate.

The immediate question would be why this bill is limited to the four Pac-12 schools located in California.

The reason: those schools (California, Stanford, UCLA and USC) have the means to offer more support thanks to the new $3 billion television rights deal signed by the conference.

The bill calls on schools that generate $10 million or more annually in media revenue to offer the following benefits to its student-athletes:

• Equivalent academic scholarships to athletes who are injured and lose their athletic scholarship.

• Equivalent academic scholarships to athletes who have participated in sports programs with a graduation rate of less than 60% and whose scholarship was not renewed for nondisciplinary reasons.

• Payment of healthcare insurance premiums for low-income athletes.

• Payment for deductibles and co-payments for sports-related injuries.

• Financial and life-skills workshops for all incoming athletes.

• Guidelines to prevent, assess and treat sports-related injuries and serious health conditions.

• Immediate approval of transfers, without restrictions or conditions.

Sen. Alex Padilla, who was the catalyst for what he refers to as the Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, would like to see this law applied to all institutions but acknowledged the financial difficulties of doing so.

Padilla said it would be unrealistic to require the state’s other universities to provide the additional benefits because they would have to raise tuition or student fees to cover the additional costs.

The question at this point is whether or not the Student-Athlete Bill of Rights sparks any kind of change in other states.

Connecticut passed a law that requires full disclosure to prospective student-athletes in 2011, but are these two steps enough to truly get things rolling?

And Thursday’s news simply means that the bill will get to the General Assembly, so while this is good news for those in favor of additional help for student-athletes there’s still a ways to go.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 14 West Virginia takes care of No. 15 Baylor

West Virginia forward Devin Williams (41) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Feb, 6, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
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Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.

Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.

They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.

The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.

They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.

West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.

No. 22 Indiana falls at Penn State

Penn State's Shep Garner (33) moves towards the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in State College, Pa., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
(AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
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Brendan Taylor scored 24 points to lead Penn State to a 68-63 upset of No. 22 Indiana on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions were 2-8 in Big Ten play entering the weekend. Indiana? They were 9-1 and tied for first in the conference. It’s the second loss in four games for the Hoosiers following a 7-0 start to Big Ten play, a fact made all the more concerning by the fact that their league schedule is finally about to get difficult.

The Hoosiers play No. 5 Iowa at home and No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing next week. The following week they get No. 18 Purdue at home. In the final week of the regular season, Indiana squares off with No. 5 Iowa on the road and close the regular season with a visit from No. 4 Maryland.

That’s a lot of good teams that the Hoosiers to close out the year.

The question has been asked since Indiana’s hot start to league play: Are they for real? Did the Hoosiers really somehow turn things around defensively, or was that winning streak simply a by-product of their schedule?

The truth is that it was probably a combination of both. Calling them a fraud would be unjust — if you watched those games, there wasn’t much fluky about them; Indiana earned the Ws — but it does seem fair to say this is something of a regression to the mean.

They were going to slip up eventually.

And it will totally be forgotten if the Hoosiers can find a way to close the regular season with a winning record in their final seven games.