The NCAA's Brain Injury Settlement Is All About Policy Changes

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This morning, the NCAA announced it had reached a preliminary settlement in a high-profile class action lawsuit against about concussions. The class action case was brought by a number of former college athletes in regards to head injury policies. The athletes aimed to change the safety, protocol, and monitoring programs when it come to head injuries during games and practice sessions.

The lawyer representing the class, Steve Berman, told the New York Times, "This offers college athletes another level of protection, which is vitally important to their health. 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."

The settlement will create a $70 million fund which is responsible for testing athletes, both current and former, for brain injuries. The results of those test will determine if athletes can sue for damages thereafter. Non-head injuries, don't qualify.

The NCAA will also make changes to their "return to play" policy, giving strict instructions as to how players must be treated by their team if they sustain a head injury during a game, and when they can return to action. This policy will apply to all NCAA sports and both genders.  It will also require that a trained medical professional be on site for all contact sports, such as football, lacrosse, basketball, soccer, and wrestling. 

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While the NCAA settlement discussed a number of policy changes for their sports, plaintiff lawyer Berman noted that they did not discuss financial damages to be awarded. He did note that "It’s hard to create one class that includes swimmers and football players, given how different their athletic careers are." Because of this, he "felt individuals remain best off bringing individual suits, which they can still do." Judge John Z. Lee must still approve this settlement. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.