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Colleges can back out if student athlete gets hurt

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 07 2013 05:21:52 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 08 2013 05:18:17 AM CDT

Colleges can back out if student athelete gets hurt

KUTZTOWN -

The Final Four is now down to just two.  College basketball's championship game is Monday night, but this year all eyes have been on players' injuries.  You might be surprised at how little help there is for some college athletes who get seriously hurt.

It's the gruesome injury that shocked the nation.  Louisville's Kevin Ware suffered a broken leg so bad, the bone tore through his skin.

"Coach [Pitino] just kind of gave me one of those looks like somebody just saw a ghost or something like that," said Ware.

Doctors say Ware will recover; the school says it will pay his medical bills.  But that's not always the case.

"Everybody's got their own way to handle things," said Kutztown athletic director Greg Bamberger.

Like other schools, KU requires all student-athletes to have their own personal health insurance.

"Obviously, that's a very widely-defined area, because there's really good insurance and there's other insurance that's not as good when it comes to sports injuries," he said.

In addition, Kutztown has supplemental insurance.  However, many schools don't provide that coverage gap.

"[The player's] insurance pays what they pay," said Bamberger.  "We have what is called an 'excess policy' that actually will pay above what their insurance does up to what is known as the NCAA Catastrophic Limit." 

That limit is $90,000 dollars.  That's a very high threshold, so if schools don't have an excess policy like Kutztown, an injured player could be on his own.

And as for losing their scholarship?  According to Bamberger, that's also possible, but unlikely.

"Can you pull their scholarship?  Sure you can.  Is it a practice we do here at Kutztown?  Absolutely not," he said.  "For someone to take a scholarship away because of a catastrophic injury like Kevin Ware, that would be pretty unethical."

Another issue here is, once an athlete leaves school, the university is no longer required to pay his medical bills.  So if someone like Kevin Ware developed life-long leg problems, he could be left paying for them the rest of his life.