NCAA Considers Cap on Schools’ Share of Athletes’ Insurance Cost

By | December 11, 2014

College sports’ governing body will consider limiting how much schools can contribute toward athletes’ insurance policies, according to its president.

National Collegiate Athletic Association schools pay for loss-of-value insurance policies for some of their athletes through the Student Assistance Fund. That allows a football or basketball player with the potential for a professional career to recoup money if an on-field injury cuts future earnings.

The NCAA doesn’t limit how much schools can put toward those bills, which is a factor talented athletes consider when deciding whether to turn professional. President Mark Emmert said that may change next month when the NCAA’s new legislative body, known as the Council, meets for the first time.

“This isn’t a place that anybody anticipated people going, so there’s not any structure in place,” Emmert said in an interview at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York. “I would anticipate that is something that this new council will debate vigorously.”

The Student Assistance Fund, which this year is $100 million, is set up to allow schools to cover the cost of things such as emergency travel for its athletes or clothing for formal events. The fund is divided across all NCAA schools, and use of the money is at the discretion of each university.

Fox Sports reported earlier this year that Texas A&M University contributed at least $50,000 to the loss-of-value insurance policy for offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi, who had initially entered his name into the 2014 NFL Draft before deciding to return to school. Florida State University is paying about $55,000 for a similar policy for Heisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston, who last year led the Seminoles to an undefeated season and a national championship, according to ESPN.

Insurance Incentive

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said this year that the insurance payment is an incentive for players to stay in school.

“They all want to leave for the money,” Fisher said at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Media Day, according to NBC Sports. “If I know the money is guaranteed, I can stay and get a college degree.”

Emmert said he was in favor of providing insurance payments to the “one or two percent” of football and basketball players with legitimate professional prospects. He said he didn’t know exactly how to decide who they are.

“I understand why a college athlete would want to have that in place,” he said. “And I think there needs to be a way to provide that protection and insurance.”

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