Student Athletes' Disability Insurance
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
Coach John Calipari’s post-game press conference in early April 2015 was an eye opener. The Kentucky basketball coach argued that the NCAA should pay for student athletes’ disability insurance.
The NCAA doesn’t already pay for student athletes’ disability insurance?! As a 60-year-old who could throw out her hip just by walking across a room, I cannot believe that disability insurance is not already provided to student athletes who put their bodies at considerable risk in football, hockey and other full-contact sports. The NCAA and universities make millions of dollars from student athletes but the athletes must pay for their own disability insurance?
No wonder some of the better athletes are declaring their eligibility for the NFL, NBA and NHL drafts as underclassmen. It isn’t merely because they want to start making big money yesterday; it is also because they can’t afford to stay in school and risk their future earnings as professionals. Even a student athlete who is not professional caliber must worry about suffering a disabling injury while forced to pay for his/her own disability insurance. Do coaches actually have to say that student athletes should not be put in that position?
Granted, the NCAA does pay for “catastrophic injury insurance” but it also pointedly stated that it does not have a legal duty to protect student athletes. The NCAA argues that the burden of protecting student athletes should be shouldered by the athletes’ schools.
I believe Coach Calipari is dead right: the NCAA should establish a system in which student athletes aren’t risking future earnings by staying in school. Perhaps the NCAA and individual schools would share that burden. Perhaps the NCAA and professional sports associations should share that burden.
However it is accomplished, student athletes deserve to be protected by the NCAA, individual schools, professional sports associations or a combination of those institutions that make fortunes off the talent of student athletes.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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