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Mitigating the professional risks elite college athletes take

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Mitigating the professional risks elite college athletes take.png

College athletes expertly balance rigorous and competitive sports schedules with full academic curriculums. Since some athletes expect or hope to play in professional leagues, their college life is extremely hardworking and demanding. Pressure mounts for athletes the moment scouts show up to any athletic event. For example, at a football game, the dynamic changes for the player from achieving an academic diploma to the possibility of pursuing their professional dreams.

Many players were considered prodigies and started their careers as young children. As athletes prepared for college, they heard the stories of elite competitors at the cusp of a multi-million dollar careers, only to go down in injury in a Bowl game. Also, with NFL careers shortening, rookie contracts may very well be both the first and last formal agreements they signed with a professional team.

Without a way to mitigate or eliminate the risks that come with athletics, many promising gridiron stars sidestep a return to the field in post-season or championship play. In anticipation of a multi-million dollar NFL contract, others players find more proactive ways to hedge their bets by considering:

Career protection policies - more commonly known as disability insurance.

Jake Butt was a predicted first round pick until he tore his ACL while playing in the Orange Bowl. Prior to the draft, the Michigan tight end took out a $2 million loss-of-value (LoV) policy. Butt started collecting when teams sidestepped him in the top half of the third round. By the fourth round, Butt was set to receive slightly more than a half-million dollars in disability benefit payments.

Like other players, Butt paid the disability insurance premiums out of pocket. However, he is the exception to the rule as most full-time student athletes cannot take on the financial burden of maintaining disability coverage. Many are looking to the NCAA, an organization that generates millions in profits, to provide LoV coverage. Many policies have premiums at $25,000 or higher.

The NCAA provides permanent total disability (PTD) coverage, which can protect athletes who suffer a disabling injury or illness that prevents them from ever competing professionally. However, the NCAA does not offer LoV insurance because they claim the coverage purchased by students has not been shown to benefit student-athletes on a consistent basis.

While seemingly making financial sense for the NCAA, it seems inconsistent with another common stance. The NCAA continually decries players declaring early for the NFL, yet sit out bowl games to avoid injuries that affect and end careers.

Apparently, protection for their players only goes so far.

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