Sunday, April 7, 2013

ACCURATE quotes providing INACCURATE information

When Louisville guard Kevin Ware broke his leg on national television, one question most wouldn't have thought of is who pays for the medical bills?  A university official quickly pointed out to reporters that Ware and Ware's family would have no medical bills.

In a story in USA Today, the NCAA followed up.    Here's the quote from the USA Today story:

"Student-athletes must have insurance covering athletic-related injuries to practice and compete, per rules adopted by NCAA institutions – and in most cases colleges and universities provide that coverage," NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said by email.

I expect the USA Today reporter is quoting Ms. Osburn accurately.   And if a student has no insurance and wants to buy a policy, most universities will provide a policy that can be purchased at the student's expense.   Who pays?  What Stacey Osburn says, that in MOST cases it is the university that provides coverage, is contradicted by what my student reporters have found.   Students in my computer-assisted reporting class contacted every university in the Mid-American Conference and in each case found that it is the student's insurance that provides the primary coverage.

Across the country, that's also what the National College Players Association has found.  Its president Ramogi Huma has excellent advice for both parents and any student athlete being recruited by a university to avoid running into an incredibly expensive medical bill surprise.  

In this day and age of instant online communication where every college athletic program has a website, Huma's organization has made an incredibly sensible suggestion:  put the the athletic department's medical payment policy online so student athletes and their parents know what it is.   Well click and listen to how universities responded.

Ramogi Huma asks an excellent question reporters should be asking universities to answer.   How do universities have the money to pay coaches millions of dollars and don't have money to pay for a college athlete's medical expenses?


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