Sheely estimated that more than 100 athletes per year take advantage of the program, 75 percent of them football players. The amount of coverage they can purchase depends on their draft projection. Only athletes expected to be taken in the first three rounds in football or hockey and the first round in basketball or baseball qualify for the program, with a top-10 pick eligible for a $5 million policy. A projected third-round NFL pick, meanwhile, might get $500,000 in coverage.
Premiums for such policies are costly — $20,000 to $30,000 a year for the high-end coverage, $5,000 to $8,000 on the low end. To pay for it, the NCAA offers a loan program at 1½ percent above prime, although balances must be repaid regardless of when a player gets drafted — or if drafted at all. Any player with remaining college eligibility can participate in the program, though most wait until after their sophomore seasons, Sheely said.