Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new law that says Illinois schools must offer catastrophic insurance coverage for student athletes.
Gov. Quinn signed the legislation, dubbed "Rocky's Law," Sunday at Eisenhower High School in the Chicago suburb of Blue Island.
The legislation was inspired by Rasul "Rocky" Clark, who played football for Eisenhower until he was paralyzed from the neck down when he was tackled during a 2000 game.
Clark's insurance policy, held by the school district, covered up to $5 million or 10 years, but the policy was capped in August 2010. Not only did it lower Clark's quality of medical care, it also left his family in dire financial straits.
Clark passed away last year and his story fueled legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Napoleon Harris, a former NFL player, and Rep. Will Davis.
“We have an obligation to the memory of Rocky Clark to protect student-athletes and their families from the devastating long-term effects of catastrophic injury,” said Rep. Davis in a statement. “With this law, we can continue to encouraging participation in high school athletics, while providing necessary protections for schools, for families and most importantly for kids like Rocky.”
“Rocky Clark was a fighter, and this new law – Rocky’s Law – is a tribute to him and all the years he fought to protect young athletes across our state,” Governor Quinn said in a statement. “Rocky is an inspiration to us all and he wanted to ensure other students are educated about playing it safe on the field.”
The new law takes effect Jan. 1 and requires a school's minimum policy will cover $3 million in aggregate benefits or five years of coverage. The coverage is in addition to any and all other insurance and the estimated cost of coverage will cost roughly $5 per student, according to a release from the governor's office.
"God bless Gov. Pat Quinn, Rep. Will Davis, and Sen. Napoleon Harris for getting Senate Bill 2178 passed and now signed,” said Annette Clark, Rocky’s mother. “This is an important step to protect student athletes."