What is the First and Most Important First Question Every NCAA Recruit Should Ask, In Writing?

Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu suffered a season-ending ACL injury during his last collegiate season in the fall of 2014. Until that injury, he had been projected as consensus first-round NFL draft pick.. Because he was eventually drafted in the 7th round, and, as a result, lost millions, he has recently recovered $3 million on a ‘loss-of-value’ insurance policy which he had purchased before the 2014 season. Apparently, Oregon paid for some portion of this policy.

Ekpre-Olomu is allegedly the first player to ever recover on one of these ‘loss-of-value’ policies, but that fact does not suggest that these policies — which are expensive, with premiums ranging between $60,000 and $80,000 — are an unnecessary waste. In fact, the opposite is true: every college player with NFL potential should carefully consider whether such a policy should be retained. (Policies which reimburse for “permanent  disability” are much cheaper, but usually even more difficult to use as a foundation for some future payout for injury.)

Ekpre-Olomu’s payout highlights two related, important issues:

  1. NCAA bureaucrats, and college administrators and coaches typically argue that paying players as employees would be impossible, due to the alleged impossibility of distinguishing pay differentials between players of differing value, or even of different positions. But those same coaches and AD’s are the very ones who are making those very kinds of distinctions when they decide which of their players will receive money from the school to pay for, or help pay for, such loss-of-value policies. (Texas Tech and many other schools have paid the entire cost for one or more of their players..)
  2. More importantly, Ekpre-Olomu’s predicament, coverage, and recovery highlight the completely ignored First Question Every  Recruit Should Ask (of every school, by email, in writing):

    Please send me a thorough written description as to the precise terms of every policy of insurance — along with a sample copy of each such policy —  which the school agrees to provide me, if I choose to attend. 

Recruiting typically emphasizes flashy ‘bling’ factors, and coaches just love to show off the increasingly lavish facilities. But facilities are way down the list of items about which a recruit should be concerned. The Recruit’s #1 concern, particularly in football, should be defining in great detail the nature and extent of insurances offered by — and paid for by — the school — and those coverages vary widely from school to school.

The offer and acceptance of a ‘grant-in-aid’ is a business transaction, and the recruit needs to make the decision based upon carefully evaluating which school will pay (“cover”) him the most.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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