The NCAA’s lawsuit challenging NCAA rules on head injuries could affect college football

Concussion lawsuit against NCAA could be first to reach jury trial AP Photo A federal jury may determine whether college football’s rules concerning head injuries are so lax and poorly implemented that they cause…

The NCAA’s lawsuit challenging NCAA rules on head injuries could affect college football

Concussion lawsuit against NCAA could be first to reach jury trial

AP Photo

A federal jury may determine whether college football’s rules concerning head injuries are so lax and poorly implemented that they cause catastrophic brain damage to student athletes.

If the jury rules against the NCAA, it can order officials to reinstate the athletes, provide compensation for future injuries and change the rules concerning head injuries. If it rules in favor of the NCAA, it could order a new investigation to determine which of the rules violated the constitutional rights of the former student-athletes.

“If the NCAA rules weren’t challenged, the issue of brain damage would be settled,” said James Wert, the lawyer for former Penn State linebacker Jonathan Vilma. “They’d just say it doesn’t happen.”

The NCAA must answer to the U.S. Justice Department before its football governing body can move forward with the trials, a process that could take two to three years.

The athletes’ lawyers have asked the judge in the case to speed up the trial timetable but have not said what steps they believe the NCAA plans to take to prevent the players’ trial from proceeding.

The court’s decision on this issue could affect college football and other sports that rely on injuries, because the NCAA oversees the rules that control the risk of injury.

The lawsuit in federal court challenging NCAA rules governing head injuries is the first one to go to trial in a sport since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 struck down an NCAA ban on using headbands to protect players’ brains.

In the 2005 decision, the court said colleges and universities could not ban football players from wearing a helmet with an electronic device to measure head acceleration during collisions from an NFL concussion.

The plaintiffs in the current lawsuit are Penn State linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was a starter as a junior but was limited to a reserve role as a senior; former NFL player Junior Seau; former collegiate running back LaVar Arrington; former NFL defensive end Steve McMichael; former U.S. Air Force wrestler Steve Smith, and former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, a defensive specialist for the Cleveland Browns.

The players are seeking compensation for injuries ranging from depression and cognitive problems to memory lapses and a brain hemorrhage that can impair the players’ ability to make decisions.

The lawsuit was filed in August 2011

Leave a Comment