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Pac-12 May Pay For Ex-Athletes’ Medical Costs

The Pac-12 Conference could usher in a new era in how universities help former college athletes pay for medical expenses for injuries sustained in college, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Solomon.

The Pac-12 is believed to be the first conference to direct schools to pay post-college medical costs for sports-related injuries that an athlete suffered at their school. What eligibility criteria is used by Pac-12 schools will help determine how much help former athletes receive and at what costs without people abusing the benefit. The new practice could also set a blueprint for the NCAA or other conferences to follow or avoid.

Pac-12 schools must provide direct medical expenses for at least four years following the athlete’s graduation or separation from the university, or until the athlete turns 26 years old, whichever occurs first. The timeframe for coverage was chosen in part because by the age of 26 a person is covered by the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s going to be hard to calculate,” Washington athletic director Scott Woodward told Solomon. “When was the injury created? How will we do it? We want to do the right thing and try to help out, and wherever it lands I’m going to support it. But I’m not sure right now what that is.”

The schools will have to establish their own policies to determine who is eligible. Divulging pre-existing conditions upon entrance into the school and exit physicals will likely be the easiest way to handle the issue.

“It’s such a difficult thing to wrap your head around because what’s continuation of a problem and what’s a new problem?” Arizona athletic trainer Randy Cohen said. “How do you handle people who continue to do activities and maybe you recommend they don’t continue doing that? We really want to take care of these kids. But at what point is it the risk of playing sports and having injuries versus we hurt you?”

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