Jan 29, 2015Pac-12 Ups The Ante
Recently, the the Pac-12 became the first collegiate athletic conference to guarantee that medical expenses incurred by athletes injured during their college playing days will be covered for up to four years after they leave school. Beginning in 2015-16, Pac-12 schools will be required to pay for medical expenses related to injuries suffered during institution-sponsored intercollegiate athletics for four years after an athlete leaves school, or until he or she turns 26.
“This is meant to respond to concerns that have been expressed that student-athletes put their bodies on the line and there’s not good enough care for them after school,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told CBSSports.com. “This is saying for four years or until a student-athlete is 26 years old, they’ll have medical expenses.”
The Pac-12 chose four years in part because by the age of 26 a former athlete is covered by the Affordable Care Act, Scott said. Pac-12 schools will administer the medical expenses for former athletes based on their own specific procedures and injuries will need to be documented by a university medical official in order for coverage to continue.
“Essentially, all schools have a process they go through when an athlete gets ready to leave school where they document what injuries they [incurred] while there,” Scott said. “That will be the process by which they then determine what they treat and cover financially over the ensuing four years.”
The changes are part of a reform package approved by the Pac-12’s presidents and chancellors and come on the heels of the NCAA’s decision to grant the Power 5 conferences autonomy to vote on and create their own benefits in the face of ongoing litigation threats over how athletes are treated and compensated.
“Hopefully this demonstrates to anyone that’s paying attention that reform is possible within a conference, within the NCAA, and that there are schools out there serious about it and will redirect a lot of resources toward it,” said Scott. “Hopefully this makes clear how serious our schools are for doing as much as possible for student-athletes without crossing the line in terms of professionalism.”
R.J. Anderson is the Online Editor at Training & Conditioning.