By Jeffrey S. Kravitz, Esquire & Sekou Campbell, Esquire

Sam Kahn, Jr. of ESPN Radio recently reported that Johnny Manziel is exploring the option of "Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance," provided by the NCAA. The insurance coverage is reported to be routinely sought by players in Manziel’s position. Insurance, a frequent theme on this blog, poses interesting questions for college athletics generally, and for the "exceptional athlete" in particular.

Most critically, perhaps, insurance may be a way to reconcile the NCAA’s tension between amateurism and big-money media contracts. Generally, insurance is a type of compensation. Employees frequently receive health insurance, life insurance, retirement insurance and other forms of financial protection as part of their compensation. However, the actual payout is generally deferred until a "triggering event."
The Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program, however, limits who can pull the "trigger" and makes the "trigger" itself tiny compared to the potential losses all student athletes face. The policy provides coverage for a limited number of athletes (top round draft picks in baseball, basketball, football, and men’s hockey), charges a premium (though there is a mechanism for impecunious players to acquire the necessary coverage), and pays out in a limited number of circumstances ("permanent total disability," requiring what amounts to a career-ending injury).
However, the NCAA’s insurance policy is, at worst, a tepid acknowledgment that at least some of its athletes bear a burden by playing NCAA sports. Advocates for compensating athletes may be able to convince the NCAA that the success of its nearly 25-year old insurance program may be due for some broadening for two reasons.
First, this policy does not cover the "late bloomer" exceptional athlete. For instance, the current insurance policy would have likely excluded the likes of Scottie Pippen, Tom Brady, or Randy Johnson. Second, athletes who decide to "go pro in something other than sports," also bear a risk from injury. For instance, a student-athlete may suffer a hand injury foreclosing her from a career as a surgeon. There are obvious costs to expanding exceptional athlete insurance, but those can be captured in premiums, deductibles and other terms, as with any insurance package.

By Jeffrey S. Kravitz

As featured in the Toronto Globe and Mail a Canadian company that sells 95% hockey chatchkes is suffering mightily by virtue of the hockey lockout. Does the NHL owe that person anything…no, because it is a commercial relationship and not a fiduciary one. What is a fiduciary? It is a person or institution that owes another the highest duty of good faith. Think a trustee or dare I say it, a lawyer. The law imposes superior obligations on such folks by virtue of the trust imposed in them. The NHL….likely nada. How could the vendor have protected himself?  He could have tried to put a clause in his license contract with the NHL that required them to pay him in the event of a strike or lockout (good luck). Perhaps he could have obtained business insurance that did the same thing. Or he could have diversified as stated in the article to Major League Baseball or the NBA. The lesson? As presidential advisor Bernard Baruch once remarked, "if you are going to put all of your eggs in one basket, watch the hell out of the basket."