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Lawsuit Alleges NCAA at Fault for Student Athlete Brain Injuries

Over the last several decades, colleges and universities, including many in Missouri, have become the training grounds for professional sports. Football players are among the athletes who develop under the auspices of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of college sports. Now, like the National Football League, the NCAA is being held accountable for the same type of brain injury now commonly seen among football players.

Recently, former University of Texas football player Julius Whittier became the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed against the NCAA. The first African American player in Texas, Whittier is holding the NCAA responsible for brain damage he sustained as a player from 1969 to 1972. Now 64, he has developed early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The class-action lawsuit alleges that the NCAA failed to do enough to protect its student-athletes from head injuries. The lawsuit notes that the NCAA’s own constitution holds that it is responsible for safeguarding its players, and it failed to protect college football players. The NCAA also allegedly failed to provide necessary information to football players about the sport’s life-altering risks, the long-term consequences of head impacts and did little to establish protocols and standards to prevent brain injuries.

The lawsuit was filed partly as a response to the NCAA’s August proposal of a $75-million concussion settlement with former players. The settlement would not provide care to many previous student-athletes. Whittier is seeking $5 million in restitution, but the NCAA could be forced to pay up to $50 million to all players in the lawsuit.

Brain injuries have life-altering consequences. Whether an injury results from a car accident, a workplace accident, or sports activities, it should be addressed promptly. If not, the party responsible for causing the brain injury may face legal liability.

Source: CBS Sports, “Ex-Texas player files $50M lawsuit against NCAA over brain injuries,” Adam Silverstein, Oct. 28, 2014