Florida State QB Jameis Winston is eligible for the NFL draft after this season, and barring catastrophe, will go very high and will make a lot of money. But what if something catastrophic does happen? There's insurance for that, and it emerged yesterday that Winston won't be footing the bill alone—FSU is paying about $60,000 of his premiums.
Winston's athletic ability is his investment, and to protect it, he's taken out a couple of insurance policies. As first reported by Yahoo:
- Winston purchased "total permanent disability" insurance, which would pay him if he were so grievously injured he could never play football again.
- He also has a "loss of value" policy which is tied to his draft stock. Only the elite few are eligible for this, and Winston's is reportedly based on the projection that he'll go top-10 in the draft. But if he were to fall because of injury or illness, the policy would pay him to make up the difference in rookie slot money. (USC receiver Marqise Lee, who went from a projected top-5 pick to the second round, should collect about $5 million from a similar policy.)
Yahoo reports that the payout on Winston's two policies could total $8-$10 million. The premiums on that are significant, and per NCAA rules, a player has to privately finance his own premiums, something beyond the reach of many athletes' families.
So, in steps FSU. Tomahawk Nation reported yesterday that Florida State will pay as much as $60,000 to cover Winston's "loss of value" policy. Under the same new rule that allowed Texas A&M to cover the policy of OT Cedric Ogbuehi to convince him to come back for a fourth season, FSU athletics will be paying the premium out of its Student Assistance Fund, a sort of catch-all petty-cash drawer.
In a big-time conference, that Student Assistance Fund totals a few hundred thousand a year, so $60,000 is a significant outlay for FSU. But then, Winston's a significant player. The exact sort of player for whom the NCAA should be passing new rules and bending current ones to facilitate some kind of compensation.
(It's sort of baffling how unyielding the NCAA's opposition to paying players is, while it allows things like this. FSU is paying 60 grand that Jameis Winston's family would have spent, but now doesn't have to, and as such the Winstons have $60,000 more. It's a pretty convoluted way to put a living wage into Winston's pockets, but that's exactly how it shakes out in the end. If this isn't monetary compensation for athletes, I don't know what is.)
This is all great for Winston, who has locked in a nice and deserved payout even if the absolute worst-case scenario should befall him this season. But what's in it for FSU? At least when Texas A&M picked up Ogbuehi's policy, it was very openly done so he'd come back for his senior year.
But Winston's not draft-eligible just yet. He's already coming back for 2014. This is a very nice thing for FSU to do, but it's mostly about maximizing its (however slim) chances of keeping Winston in school for 2015. Pay his insurance premiums now, then offer to pay them again next year—maybe $120k shows you care twice as deeply about a player's well-being as $60k does. FSU is rightly doing everything within the rules to get the most out of its own investment.