South Carolina Gamecock football player Jadeveon Clowney is no dummy. Neither is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.
Both star athletes — underclassmen who are early frontrunners for the 2013 Heisman — made headlines last week by confirming they are taking advantage of the NCAA’s Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program. This program permits qualifying college athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and ice hockey to take out a loan to help finance the cost of a disability insurance policy, which they must repay upon signing a professional contract.
The NCAA says between 75 and 100 athletes take advantage of the program in any given year, and about 80 percent of them are football players.
A maximum of $5 million in coverage is allowed by the program, and that’s what Clowney has opted for. The policy costs about $30,000, which will be a small fraction of the signing bonus Clowney is likely to receive once he’s eligible for the 2014 NFL draft. It’s a small price to pay to protect himself financially in the event he gets injured during South Carolina’s football season this fall.
Manziel hasn’t confirmed if he’s going for the max coverage, but just the fact that he’s utilizing the program shows he’s got his head on straight as well.
This program is a no-brainer for elite athletes like these guys, who — barring unforeseen circumstances — figure to be taken among the top five picks in the NFL draft once they become eligible.
You might remember that Clowney, the All-American defensive end, surged into the national spotlight with a vicious, fumble-causing, helmet-detaching hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith during the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. Suppose he makes another big hit like that this fall, but this time suffers a neck injury in the process? That could derail his NFL future and probably around $9 million in guaranteed money from a contract. But at least he would be in line to receive the $5 million from the insurance policy.
Next: Marcus Lattimore and Nerlens Noel