Well, ain’t this a real kick in the pants.
Tua Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury may have cost him upwards of $10 million. Why? Unlike other high-profile NFL prospects, the insurance provided to him by the University of Alabama did not include a loss-of-value policy.
That means he will not be able to recoup millions of dollars in potential losses if he falls from the possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft to, say, the mid-first round, which some prognosticators are expecting.
Tagovailoa, sources said, decided to only take the coverage that Alabama gave to him. Tua’s coverage entitles him to collect if doctors rule he can never play again, as the school purchased permanent total disability insurance for the QB.
And why doesn’t ‘Bama, with all its soon-to-be pro studs on the roster, fork out for the coverage?
Sources said Alabama has not, in recent memory, agreed to pay for loss of value for any of its players due to the policy’s cost compared to the percentage of players who actually collect.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne told The Action Network the school currently has 16 football players for which it pays permanent total disability premiums.
The money Alabama spends on those premiums took up 68% of the school’s allocation of its Student Assistance Fund this year. (The NCAA stipulates that the only way schools can pay for insurance premiums for players is through this fund, which is a pool of hundreds of millions of dollars that is split among institutions.)
Schools have to always leave some money available in their fund to pay for approved use of giving student athletes benefits in case of emergencies (death in the family, natural disaster, etc).
“In consultation with industry experts, loss of value has not been shown to consistently benefit student-athletes who file a claim,” Byrne said. “If you have loss of value, you still have the opportunity to have a successful professional career. One of the reasons we go with permanent total disability is to protect the student-athletes should they not be able to play again, in which case they have no ability to make any future earnings through their sport professionally. In the event of injury, we utilize our resources through health care and rehab to help them increase their draft value.”
The point here isn’t to throw shade at Alabama. Byrne is doing the best he can under the rules, which are set by every player’s friend, the NCAA. But this is what you get when a school is loaded with pro prospects; the system simply isn’t set up to accommodate a situation like that, basically because schools in general don’t want the expense.
Which sucks for Tua. And, yes, the family could have bought coverage on their own, assuming they could afford it. That’s a pretty steep bill, though, and if they couldn’t swing it, it’s not like they could have asked a friend (or an agent) to front it for them without getting into a different issue with the NCAA.
I will say that this could make for an interesting sales pitch on the recruiting trail, though.