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Oregon now paying for injury insurance for Marcus Mariota, others

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Marcus Mariota is a leading 2014 Heisman candidate. (USATSI)
Marcus Mariota is a leading 2014 Heisman candidate. (USATSI)

More college football: Jon Solomon | Dennis Dodd | Jeremy Fowler | Latest news

Earlier this week, CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler reported that unlike a handful of other FBS schools -- including Florida State and Jameis Winston -- Oregon was not paying for Marcus Mariota's injury protection insurance, or three other Ducks' similar policies.

Oregon announced Friday that that has changed.

"The families of quarterback Marcus Mariota, center Hroniss Grasu, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and defensive end Arik Armstead purchased policies this past offseason under the NCAA's 'exceptional student-athlete disability insurance' rule," the Ducks football program said in a statement. "The athletic department will reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses related to the policies, after Texas A&M and Florida State took the previously unprecedented step of doing so for football players earlier this year."

The Ducks explained the prior lack of such reimbursements by saying they "had been operating with the understanding that paying insurance premiums would violate NCAA rules, based on previous inquiries" -- and that after seeing Florida State and Texas A&M take that step, they asked for permission from the Pac-12 and received it.

The premiums will be paid through the school's NCAA-governed Student Assistance Fund. Oregon senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens previously told CBSSports.com that spending the money to cover the football players' and others' insurance premiums would deplete the Fund beyond the point where it could assist student-athletes with other issues, such as emergency dental work or trips for funerals.

The Ducks' announcement, frankly, sounded as if the school wasn't necessarily thrilled to have been singled out as the latecomers to the reimbursement party.

"While the new interpretation raises complicated questions such as how many athletes per year can have premiums covered by the school, and what an appropriate value for such policies should be, UO officials wanted to provide relief for the four families who bought policies this year," it read.

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