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By Ken Reed

The NBA has a rule that prevents high school basketball players — no matter how talented — from jumping to the NBA after high school. So, most top players go to college for a year or two.

However, that can be a risky proposition for college basketball stars because of an NCAA rule that prevents NCAA athletes and their families from taking out a loan to pay for “loss of value” insurance. If a top college basketball player chooses to get a loan from a third party to help pay for “loss of value” insurance, based on potential future NBA earnings, he would be violating NCAA rules regarding accepting extra benefits beyond an athletic scholarship.

“How many of those families have access without loans to pay for one of the premiums of these policies that could be six figures?” said Warren K. Zola, an assistant dean at Boston College’s business school and a counselor for athletes pursuing professional careers. “They go to college and the NCAA decides were not going to allow you the capacity to fully insure your potential earnings because that’s an extra benefit. And once again, student-athletes have no union, have no advocates, and everyone just goes along in the commercialism of college athletics saying it’s O.K.”

Paul H. Haagen, co-director of the Center for Sports Law and Policy at Duke University believes the NCAA rule is hypocritical given the NCAA’s stance on protecting the best interests of student-athletes.

These particular NBA and NCAA rules recently came under the spotlight when the University of Kentucky’s center Nerlens Noel, expected by many to be the number one pick in the upcoming NBA draft, tore an ACL and is out indefinitely, his future prospects in question.

Noel’s injury, and his lack of “loss of value” insurance, may have cost him millions of dollars in professional basketball earnings. He’s left to decide whether to stay at Kentucky and rehabilitate his knee or enter the NBA draft and hope his stock hasn’t decreased substantially.

“I think we need to be having these debates in talking about the welfare of student-athletes,” said Zola. “Noel is just another shining example of how that gets ignored.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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