Duke freshman star forward Zion Williamson has at least partial insurance coverage in the event he sustains a serious injury, as he nearly did on Wednesday night when his Nike shoe exploded.
Williamson left the game vs. North Carolina when he sustained a knee injury as the result of his shoe falling apart. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Williamson was diagnosed with a mild knee sprain.
Williamson was scheduled to have an MRI exam on Thursday.
Like many top prospects in college football and basketball, Williamson has an insurance policy, a person with knowledge of the policy told USA TODAY Sports. The person was granted anonymity because terms of insurance policies aren’t typically made public.
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“These have become increasingly popular, especially over the last 10 years,” Keith Lerner, founder of insurance provider Total Planning Sports Services, told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s been led by the increased value of salaries in the NFL and NBA.”
According to The Action Network, citing sources, Williamson’s policy stipulates that he can collect $8 million if he is selected past the 16th pick in June’s NBA Draft. That loss-of-value insurance is typically added to disability insurance, which can pay out between $10 million and $15 million if a player suffers a career-ending injury.
The top pick in the upcoming draft is expected to make $25.5 million over the first three years of his career.
Having both loss-of-value insurance and disability would cost roughly $90,000, Lerner estimated for a player of Williamson’s stature. Lerner’s firm wasn’t involved in drafting Williamson’s policy.
Lerner said about 90% of his business is covering college football prospects with the other 10% covering basketball and baseball players.
Over the past decade, the NCAA has tweaked its rules when it comes to loss-of-value and disability coverage. College football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s ice hockey players are now allowed to take out loans for future earnings and schools can cover the premiums themselves.
Williamson’s premium is covered by Duke, according to The Action Network.
The loss-of-value coverage is often reworked when a player shoots up in draft projections during the season.
“They can buy additional coverage,” Lerner said. “We have had players who we wrote policies for before spring football that halfway through the season it was clear that the amount was not nearly enough based on where they were expected to be drafted.”