Yesterday, a FoxSports.com story addressed South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s pursuit of an insurance policy for next season.
Clowney, a rising junior, is one of the best players in college football, and he would be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft if he was eligible, according to most draft analysts. But he isn’t eligible, because he isn’t three years out of high school – the minimum for early NFL entry.
Before USC’s bowl game, Clowney was asked if he would seek an insurance policy before the 2013 season. He said he wouldn’t. But it seemed likely that adults around him would talk to him about this. And sure enough, last month, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said the coaching staff planned to speak with Clowney about getting a policy.
So it seems like only a matter of time before it happens.
In short, an insurance policy for a college athlete in Clowney’s situation would work like any other policy. The athlete’s family pays for the policy, and if the athlete suffers a career-ending injury, he is given a bunch of money, to help make up for his lost professional earnings.
Former USC tailback Marcus Lattimore could very well go on to have a successful NFL career. But his initial earnings after this year’s draft will be lower than they would have been, because he suffered a serious right knee injury last October. He won’t be able to work out at the NFL combine and he will almost certainly be drafted lower than he would’ve been if he was healthy.
Lattimore entered the 2012 season as one of college football’s top tailbacks, and a potential first-round draft pick. Now that USC has another player, Clowney, in an even more auspicious position – on track to being the No. 1 pick in 2014 if he stays healthy – the concerns about Clowney remaining physically intact are magnified.
FoxSports.com spoke with sports insurance maven Richard Salgado, who said “a member of Clowney’s camp” contacted him about obtaining a policy. Salgado is the president of Coastal Advisors LLC, a company that provides various insurance services for pro athletes, including life insurance and estate planning.
This morning, Salgado clarified his comments and said it seemed unlikely to him, at least at this point, that Clowney would obtain a policy through Coastal Advisors, for several reasons.
“Let me get one point straight right off the bat: I did not write any insurance on him,” Salgado said. “An inquiry was made about him to me, and that was it. Now, was it a family member (who made the inquiry)? Was it an agent? Was it anybody like that? No. I don’t even know. You get all these people that call and say they’re the advisor to these kids, and 90 percent of the time, they’re lying. I’m the biggest provider of insurance in this business of sports. People ask me a lot of things.”
Salgado has insured hundreds of athletes over the years, and he gets most of his clients after they turn pro. The NFL client list on his website includes Arian Foster, Vernon Davis, Justin Tuck and C.J. Spiller.
Here’s what Salgado said happened with the Clowney inquiry: About two weeks ago, he received a phone call from a restricted number. The man on the other end said he learned about Salgado on the Internet and said he had a potential client for him, Clowney. When Salgado asked the man’s name, all he would say was: “I’m an advisor to the family.”
“They wanted to know if I was the guy that did insurance for athletes,” Salgado said. “Basically, the questions are: How much can you get me? That was the extent of it. I said it could range from $1 to $5 million. A guy of his name and caliber, he’s going to pretty much command as much as he needs to get if he’s willing to pay the price.
“When you get calls like that, you take it with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, if they don’t put you in front of the kid, or they don’t put you on the phone with the kid or the parent, these calls are all meaningless.”
Salgado said he has not heard back from the man. Moreover, Salgado said that if he did speak with Clowney or his family, he would advise them to go through the NCAA for his policy, which Salgado said is “more affordable and convenient.”
“The NCAA plan gives the player up to several million dollars of coverage, and they execute the loan for you through the NCAA officially approved lender,” Salgado said. “The money goes directly from the (loaning) bank to the insurance company.”
Salgado said that whenever current college athletes call him about insurance, he usually directs them to the NCAA, whose policy he said “runs between $8,000 or $9,000 per million (dollars of insurance).” Salgado said his prices are between $8,000 and $15,000 per million “depending on the player’s age and position.”
In 2009, an NCAA official told Sports Illustrated that a $5 million policy through the NCAA would cost between $25,000 and $28,000, which works out to $5,000 to $5,600 per million. Either way, that’s a lot of money for anybody, which is why families often have to take out a loan to buy the policies. Of course, that loan money is easily paid back if the player remains healthy and winds up making millions of dollars in the NFL.
While Salgado said he directs most current college athletes to the NCAA, he does have six to seven current clients who are prominent football players preparing for the draft. Salgado declined to name them, but he said they are players who didn’t purchase insurance before last season, but want it as they work out for the combine and embark on their pro careers. That is a common time for football players to purchase insurance if they didn’t do it while in college.