The Cost of Getting Injured in a Bowl Game


Ohio State All-American CB Denzel Ward chose not to play in the Cotton Bowl, continuing a recent trend of projected 1st round NFL picks skipping bowl games (see: Fornette, McCaffrey). This even though nearly every top college player (i.e. guys projected to be picked on 1st 2 days of draft) has customized insurance policies. In ’14, the NCAA created a waiver that enabled draft eligible players to borrow against future earnings to pay for loss-of-value insurance; schools can also pay the premiums from NCAA-approved Student Assistance Funds. Loss-of-value policies pay out if the athlete is drafted far lower than expected due to injury. At least 4 highly touted prospects have collected on a policy in the last 18 months (including Jaylon Smith, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, E.J. Bibbs and Silas Redd). Penn State star RB Saquon Barkley, a projected Top 10 selection, played in the Fiesta Bowl; rushing for 129 yards and 2 TDs (including a Fiesta Bowl record 92-yard TD run) in what is expected to be his final collegiate game.

Howie Long-Short: Loss of value policies cost between $10,000 and $15,000 per $1 million in coverage with a limit of $7.5 million (though combined with other policies, payouts could reach $10 million). Lloyd’s of London is among the companies (PFS Insurance and Houston Casualty are others) that offer high-limit sports loss-of-value insurance. For those wondering, three Lloyd’s insurers are publicly traded: Beazley Plc (LON: BEZ), Hiscox Ltd (LON: HSX) and Lancashire Holdings Ltd. (LON: LRE).

Fan Marino: NEVER blame a college athlete for sitting out a non-playoff bowl game. These policies are difficult to collect on (less than a dozen have been collected on in 27 years) and don’t pay out anything close to the true value lost. Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith was a projected top-5 draft pick (contract value +/- $23.5 million, with $15 million guaranteed), before tearing his ACL, LCL and experiencing nerve damage in his left knee during the ’16 Fiesta Bowl. Smith ended up being selected as the 35th overall pick (round 2) and received a 4-year contract worth $6.5 million, with $4.5 million guaranteed. He received $705,000, the difference between his contract value and the $7.2 million protected against injury. Ekpre-Olomu was a projected 1st round pick (contract value $6 million+), who tore his ACL and dislocated a knee in practice prior to the ’15 Rose Bowl; he ended up being selected in the 7th round and received a contract worth $2.3 million. Lloyds of London paid him $3 million (tax free), but that doesn’t offset the difference lost or account for endorsement opportunities he would have received as a 1st round pick.

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