NCAA Named in Head Injury Class Action

Over the summer, this blog discussed the brain injury lawsuits filed against the National Football League (NFL) by football players, ex-football players, and their spouses. Now, college athletes are beginning to file similar lawsuits against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), accusing the organization of failing to adequately inform and protect student-athletes from the risk of serious head injury. Class action lawsuits filed on behalf of college football players, soccer players, lacrosse players, and hockey players allege that the NCAA has been negligent in protecting student-athletes while profiting off of them. The lawsuits claim that the NCAA "failed to set standards for awareness, diagnosis, and management of concussions." College football players further allege that coaches teach tackling techniques that lead to head trauma.

Most sports related head injuries are mild traumatic brain injury or concussions. However, the NFL lawsuits and now the NCAA lawsuits are demonstrating the deleterious effect of accumulated brain trauma from repeated concussions. In fact, Purdue University researchers say that repeated hits in football can have a profound effect on learning even in the course of one season, explaining their studies on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel:


The majority of hits a student-athlete sustains occur in practice rather than in games. With more than 1500 hits a season, it stands to reason that the repeated closed head trauma would yield staggering damage. However, seeing the images in black and white--or rather, orange and white--gives the viewer a clear picture of just how much damage to thinking and learning occurs in the course of one season.

Currently, the NCAA allows five full-contact practices per week; in light of recent studies about concussions and student-athlete head injuries, the presidents of all eight Ivy League schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Penn, and Yale) restricted full-contact practice to only two per week.

Some former student-athletes who have filed suit against the NCAA say that their traumatic brain injuries have left them unable to work, resulting in not just medical expenses, but also an inability to maintain gainful employment and earn income following college. Injured athletes seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income, but they say the lawsuits are about more than money. They are about forcing the NCAA to adopt measures to protect college athletes from unreasonable risk of injury and to inform them of the potential long-term effects of concussion.

In the meantime, the NCAA has stepped up measures to inform and protect.  Recently, the association partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide educational materials for coaches, student-athletes, and others.

Contact us for a free consultation when you need a head injury lawyer or class action lawyer in Oklahoma.