Oregon did an about-face on Friday when it comes to supplemental insurance policies for players.
Families of Mariota, center Hroniss Grasu, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and defensive end Arik Armstead all purchased policies insuring for loss of future earnings in the event of an injury after they returned to the program for another year instead of declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft after last season.
The school said the reimbursement would come from the NCAA's Student-Athlete Assistance Fund in a manner similar to what Texas A&M did with offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and Florida State did with quarterback Jameis Winston.
The athletic department release said the program had been operating under the assumption that paying for the premiums using the fund would have been an NCAA violation. Oregon officials said they still have questions regarding how many players can have their premiums picked up by the school -- and at what values -- but noted they wanted to provide relief for families who already purchased policies before the 2014 season started.
Mariota is considered by most to be a possible first-round draft pick if he declares for the 2015 NFL Draft, and is described by a few as having the tools to be the first quarterback taken next year. Grasu is one of the top offensive linemen in the country and the All-American likewise could be the first player at his position taken in the draft.
Ekpre-Olomu made the surprising decision to return to Eugene for this season after being graded highly by scouts and labeled as an early-round draft pick. Armstead figures to be a starter along the defensive line and might have taken a policy out after seeing his brother suffer an injury that hampered his draft stock while at USC.
Either way, Oregon's decision to use the NCAA fund for players' insurance premiums seems to mark the true opening of the flood gates when it comes to this issue after news of Texas A&M doing so for a player surfaced this summer.