Winston's insurance deal a "game-changer"
Posted August 6, 2014
Jameis Winston is getting paid.
OK, the money’s not technically going into his checking account, but for all intents and purposes Florida State has found a way to pay the Seminoles’ star player to play football.
And it’s perfectly legal. Or, to use the NCAA’s parlance, it’s permissible.
Here’s what’s happening: Winston took out an insurance package valued at $10 million to protect himself in the event of an injury this season. The package covers permanent disability and loss of value, and it's a fairly common thing for elite athletes.
So, they're paying him. OK, technically, they're guaranteeing that he gets paid, but still...
The Seminoles are tapping into the mother of all loopholes, using money from the NCAA's Student Assistance Fund to pay for the insurance policy. Here's a brief description of the fund's intended use from the NCAA's website: "As a guiding principle, the fund shall be used to assist student-athletes in meeting financial needs that arise in conjunction with participation in intercollegiate athletics, enrollment in an academic curriculum or that recognize academic achievement."
Basically, we're talking about things like airfare to get home during an emergency, or a new suit to wear to an awards banquet. That's what the rule intends to cover, but one can make an argument that insuring a young person's ability to make a (lucrative) living can fall under "needs" - especially when the athlete's family doesn't have the resources to pay for the policy.
That's what Florida State is doing, and they're not even the first to come up with the idea. Texas A&M subsidized a similar policy for offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi this year. The difference is that Ogbuehi was considering a jump to the NFL, while Winston still has another year remaining before he can declare for the draft.
In truth, I don't think this is a bad thing. By protecting the athletes' earnings potential, universities are making it more feasible for them to actually stay in school and finish their degrees, and they're taking action to make sure these players are not simply "used up" by the system,
But does anyone actually think FSU and A&M were concerned about degrees when they shelled out the cash for these insurance policies? Of course not, their actions essentially amount to recruiting tactics designed to keep star players on their teams. And I suspect this will not be the end of it - why shouldn't Duke, State or Carolina do this for star basketball players? It's an option, for sure - one that might discourage a few one-and-done's.
As one administrator explains, "it's a game changer."
You got that right.
Of course, not all schools have such deep pockets as FSU and A&M. We may very well see the "have's" further distancing themselves from the "have not's" by insurance their elite players. And what of the rank-and-file athletes? This only refers to the best of the best.
Regardless, Florida State has found the Holy Grail of college athletics: a way to pay players legally. And that's impressive.