SBD/July 29, 2014/Colleges

NCAA Settles Class-Action Concussion Lawsuit, Creates $70M Fund For Trauma Diagnosis

The NCAA today agreed to "settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit" by creating a $70M fund to "diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports," according to Michael Tarm of the AP. The NCAA also "agreed to implement a single return-to-play policy spelling out how all teams must treat players who received head blows." Unlike a "proposed settlement in a similar lawsuit against the NFL, this deal stops short of setting aside money to pay players who suffered brain trauma." Instead, athletes can "sue individually for damages and the NCAA-funded tests to gauge the extent of neurological injuries could establish grounds for doing that." The deal comes after "nearly a year of negotiations." In addition to football, hockey and soccer, the settlement also "applies to all men and women who participated in basketball, wrestling, field hockey and lacrosse." There is "no cutoff date for when athletes must have played a designated sport at one of the more than 1,000 NCAA member schools to qualify for the medical exams." Among other settlement terms, all athletes "will take baseline neurological tests to start each year to help doctors determine the severity of any concussion during the season; concussion education will be mandated for coaches and athletes; and a new, independent Medical Science Committee will oversee the medical testing." Meanwhile, the NCAA admits "no wrongdoing in the settlement and has denied understating the dangers of concussions" (AP, 7/29).
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