By Rob Moseley
Editor, GoDucks.com

The UO athletic department is reimbursing four families of football players for out-of-pocket expenses related to the purchase of insurance policies for loss of future earnings in the event of an injury, school officials said.

The families of quarterback Marcus Mariota, center Hroniss Grasu, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and defensive end Arik Armstead purchased policies this past offseason under the NCAA’s “exceptional student-athlete disability insurance” rule. The athletic department will reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses related to the policies, after Texas A&M and Florida State took the previously unprecedented step of doing so for football players earlier this year.

Money provided to the athletic department’s student assistance fund by the NCAA must be used to cover those costs. That fund has in the past and will continue to be used to cover myriad expenses related to student-athlete welfare, for which administration will find other funds in the budget.

Oregon had been operating with the understanding that paying insurance premiums would violate NCAA rules, based on previous inquiries; only three athletes have sought such policies over the last decade, to the best of the football program’s knowledge. Once news circulated of the actions taken by Texas A&M, the athletic department consulted with the Pac-12 and was informed it could do likewise.

While the new interpretation raises complicated questions such as how many athletes per year can have premiums covered by the school, and what an appropriate value for such policies should be, UO officials wanted to provide relief for the four families who bought policies this year.