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Op-Ed: Why college athletes’ decision to opt-out of play-offs games should be respected?

NFL Player along with helmet sitting on bench
Sunday, 09 January 2022 By Richard Giller

On Monday night, January 10, 2022, the University of Georgia will face off against the University of Alabama in the forty-fourth postseason game of the college football season. The winner of that final game will be crowned the 2021-22 National Champion in American college football.

Seven years ago the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) established a four-team, three-game, knock-out football tournament to have the national champion decided on the field rather than by voters casting ballots in several different polls[1]. The College Football Playoff (CFP) system uses traditional Bowl Games and their respective venues for both semi-final games – this year Alabama defeated the University of Cincinnati by a score of 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl held on December 31[2] and, later that evening, Georgia defeated the University of Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl[3] – with the winners of those two Bowls advancing to Monday’s final game to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana this year.    

As another college football season comes to an end, a number of college coaches, pundits, television commentators, and fans have criticized the 42 student-athletes on non-CFP teams who opted out of playing in[4], what amounts to be, a meaningless exhibition game, in order to protect their bodies from serious injury and concentrate on preparing for this year’s NFL Draft. Those critics would be well-served to heed the sound advice that Joe Pantoliano’s character Guido gave to Joel, the character played by Tom Cruise, in the movie Risky Business: “never, ever [mess] with another man’s livelihood.” Or, as author Claude Brown wrote, “you don’t mess with a man’s money … or his manhood.”[5]

In this article, the author shares his views on why student athletes may opt to not play in play-off games, and why in their opinion this is a reasonable position to take given the potential career and financial consequences. The author has conducted analysis of the student-athletes pulling out of the bowl games and their projected draft positions which is presented in a table below.

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Richard Giller

Richard Giller

Richard Giller is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Greenspoon Marder LLP and is the head of the firm’s Insurance Recovery and Counseling practice. He concentrates his practice on recovering insurance benefits from recalcitrant insurance companies on behalf of his institutional and individual clients. Mr. Giller has represented policyholders all over the U.S. and has successfully secured hundreds of millions of dollars in defense costs, settlements, and indemnity payments on behalf of his clients. Besides advising Fortune 500 clients, Mr. Giller represents collegiate and professional athletes, professional sports teams, and entertainers in securing payouts under various insurance products including permanent total disability (PTD), temporary total disability (TTD), and loss-of-value (LOV) insurance claims. Mr. Giller has also successfully obtained recoveries under event cancellation insurance, cast and crew insurance, and other entertainment-related insurance policies and coverages.

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