It was a moment that many in the Quad Cities will never forget, September 22, 2006 when paramedics and coaches rushed to help Rock Island football star Travis Hearn who was lying on the field. He was paralyzed from the neck down and those injuries contributed to his death 2 years later from a hit in that game. Monday, those memories were fresh in local administrators’ minds after Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law to protect all student athletes.
“We need to make some changes in our laws to take good care of those who suffer catastrophic injuries at playing high school sports,” Quinn said in a Sunday press conference.
Rocky’s Law, named after Rasul “Rocky” Clark, a Chicago football player who was injured during a football game in 2000 leaving him a quadriplegic and died last year. The new law requires all Illinois school districts to provide catastrophic accident insurance coverage. It would cover injuries caused at a school sponsored event that cost more than 50 thousand dollars, up to 3 million or for five years of care.
Moline Athletic Director Todd Rosenthal says having a plan in place to protect students and their families is a plus.
“I think any type of extra coverage has to be nothing but good.”
United Township Superintendent, Dr. Jay Morrow agrees with the law but says yet again, the decisions of Illinois law makers will affect the pockets of local tax payers.
“On a concept, this law is very good,” Morrow says. “However it is another example of how the legislators are passing unfunded mandates. This is something that will impact the local property taxes.
It's too early to know how it will impact taxpayers. Dr. Morrow says these incidents are rare but the risk is always there.
Some of the schools in this district already have this type of insurance; UTHS is one that does not already have it.
The law will go into effect July 1, 2014.