Chicago, IL, United States (4E Sports) – In another attempt to address concerns over athletes’ rights, the NCAA has reached an initial settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by former college athletes to convince the league to implement reforms to its head-injury policies.
The settlement brings a significant change in the care and safety of all current and former college athletes — male and female, in all sports and across each division.
It includes a $70 million medical monitoring fund and a new national protocol for head injuries sustained by players during games and practices.
“This offers college athletes another level of protection, which is vitally important to their health,” said the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer, Steve Berman.
“Student-athletes — not just football players — have dropped out of school and suffered huge long-term symptoms because of brain injuries. Anything we can do to enhance concussion management is a very important day for student-athletes,” he added.
While the settlement does not provide financial compensation for injuries, it allows individual players to sue for damages.
The settlement was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois Tuesday but it requires the approval of Judge John Z. Lee.
At least one plaintiffs’ lawyer involved in the case criticized the agreement and said he would urge the judge to reject the settlement.
Jay Edelson, who represents one of the plaintiffs, called the preliminary agreement terrible and said he planned to convey his objections to Judge Lee on Tuesday afternoon.
“It totally loses sight of the purpose of the case, which was to compensate people who were badly injured by concussions,” Edelson said. “It’s a great deal for the NCAA but very scary for the class.”
The proposed settlement would establish a medical monitoring fund similar in some ways to the one proposed recently by the NFL and its players.
It would give all former college athletes a chance to receive a neurological screening to examine brain functions and any signs of brain damage like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease.
Under the settlement, college athletes would preserve their rights to sue their universities or the NCAA for personal-injury financial damages.