Suspended Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who was sidelined by the school this week amid questions about his potentially taking money from memorabilia dealers for his autograph, has received more than a scholarship for his prowess on the field.
Sources told ESPN that over the past two seasons, Georgia has arranged for more than $75,000 in insurance premiums to be paid for Gurley, including a nearly $40,000 policy this year through International Specialty Insurance.
The current policy, which includes $5 million in the case of an injury that would cause him to never play again and up to $2.5 million if he sustains an injury that results in his slipping in the NFL draft, has been completely paid for. That means the policy will remain valid, for injuries sustained by Gurley on or off the field, until the policy ends Jan. 1.
Schools have been able to pay insurance premiums for their top athletes recently by taking money out of the Student Assistance Fund, an NCAA program that gives money to schools to pay for reasonable items in case an athlete can't afford them. Although the most commonly named use of this fund is a plane ticket for an athlete who needs to fly home after a family death, schools have started paying for insurance premiums. Other schools that have used the Student Assistance Fund for insurance premiums include Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alabama, Florida State, Oregon State, Arizona, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, LSU and Ohio State.
After Texas A&M publicized this season that it had paid offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi's premium through the fund, the floodgates opened. Oregon even got clarification from the NCAA that it could reimburse some of its players, including quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had already paid their insurance premiums.
Some athletic directors have been concerned about the message it sends to drain the fund -- in 2013, SEC schools reportedly received $350,000 each -- on so few players. What happens if a school uses that money on a player, perhaps such as Gurley, who then becomes ineligible?
Also in question is whether the policy, should it be be collected, would be tax-free. Policies such as this have been tax-free in the past because the athletes themselves have paid for policies. Once the school pays, it could change how the Internal Revenue Service would rule. A spokesman for the IRS told ESPN this fall that the exact case doesn't appear in the IRS code and therefore would need to be looked at for an official interpretation to be made.
Georgia didn't need Gurley on Saturday and beat Missouri 34-0.