It’s time to provide workers compensation for college athletes

NCAA basketball tournament puts spotlight on workers compensation issues after injury to Kevin Ware.

Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware sustained a horrific injury to his leg during last week’s tournament game. College basketball fans across the nation were both shocked and concerned.

CBS News is now reporting that it could put his college education at risk and leave him with substantial medical bills. Most college scholarships last for just one year and the university can opt not to renew.

The article also points out that college athletes are not considered employees for purposes of workers compensation. This means that he may be personally responsible for medical bills over the long term.

New debate on an old issue

Controversy about paying college athletes is nothing new. It’s hard to fathom how universities can justify making millions of dollars while most college athletes struggle to pay their bills.

The Atlantic published a fascinating article in 2011 about the history of the NCAA and the myth of the “student-athlete.” The origin of the term to help the NCAA fight against workers compensation claims for injured football players.

Arguments about protecting the integrity of the game are hard to swallow when big time TV deals and company endorsements are the norm.

Possible work comp solution

It has been reported that the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program comes with a $90,000 deductible and most athletes don’t even qualify.

A solution to this problem would be to create a pooled workers compensation fund. All NCAA affiliated universities and colleges must contribute based upon the amount of revenue generated each year by student-athletes. State workers compensation laws would govern the payment of benefits just like professional athletes.

If a scholarship is lost because of injury, the fund should step in so the student-athlete can complete his or her education.

To speak with one of our workers compensation attorneys, call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation.

Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workers compensation benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.

Related information:

Harvard study finds medical bills as reason for 62.1% of bankruptcies

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