||Monday, January 6
Decision could secure McGahee's financial future
MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Miami tailback Willis McGahee took out a $2.5 million insurance policy two weeks before he was injured in the Fiesta Bowl and can collect after a year if the injury prevents him from returning to football, a Florida newspaper reported.
Insurance agent Keith Lerner of Gainesville told Florida Today that the policy was signed and put into effect just prior to the national championship game, the newspaper said in a story for Tuesday editions.
That last-minute decision could end up securing McGahee's financial future if he's unable to play again. The sophomore rushed for a school-record 1,686 yards and 27 touchdowns this season, and was projected to be a top NFL draft pick had he turned pro early.
McGahee sustained a severe injury to his left knee in the fourth quarter of the 31-24 loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
"I just visited him in the hospital and told him that my hope is, and that everybody's hope is, that you're going to the NFL and make a substantial amount of money,'' Lerner said Monday night. "But if he doesn't, he's got something to fall back on.''
McGahee had surgery Sunday at HealthSouth Doctors Hospital, next to the Coral Gables campus. Doctors repaired torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and are hopeful he could eventually play again.
If not, he'll get $2.5 million minus taxes, Lerner said. He said McGahee will be eligible to collect Jan. 3, 2004 -- one year from the date of the injury.
Dr. John Uribe, who performed the surgery, declined to set a timetable for McGahee's return but said he should make a complete recovery.
Lerner, president of the financial consulting firm Total Planning, has written numerous insurance policies for college stars. Lerner told Florida Today he wrote a policy for McGahee in late December with Lloyd's of London, after McGahee contacted him.
The coverage officially started Dec. 20. The final medical forms were sent to Lloyd's of London the day of the Fiesta Bowl, Lerner said.
McGahee's premium was about $20,000, paid for with a loan taken out by McGahee's family, Lerner told the newspaper.
"It was a real, real smart decision on his behalf,'' Lerner said. "He wanted to get as much insurance as he could. The ironic thing about it is that he waited so late in the season to get it that he got a lot more coverage than he could have at the beginning of the season.''
Insurance policies for college athletes not taken out directly through the NCAA's program can be done by independent writers.
Lerner insured four Hurricane players a year ago that went on to become first-round picks: Bryant McKinnie, Mike Rumph, Phillip Buchanon and Ed Reed.
Former Florida defensive tackle Ed Chester, another former Lerner client, suffered a similar knee injury in his senior season for the Gators in 1998 and collected the following fall on a $1 million policy.
Miami's McGahee leaves title game with torn ACL