A proposed $75 million head injury settlement with the NCAA was rejected by a federal judge on Wednesday. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge John Lee of Chicago thinks the potential deal was “potentially underfunded” and wanted “both sides to go back to the drawing board.”
The settlement would create a $70 million fund to test current and former student-athletes with head injuries and would also contribute $5 million toward research. Additionally, standards for athletes returning to the playing field following a concussion would be toughened.
The intent of the deal was for the NCAA to settle a bevy of lawsuits that accused the NCAA of not properly protecting student-athletes from head injuries. Per the AP, the proposed testing program and renewed focus on player safety would “shield the NCAA from being hit with a single, blockbuster damages payout.”
While he believes the proposal is an encouraging step, Lee wrote in his 21-page opinion that there is still work to be done amid the settlement discussions.
From the AP:
"The court encourages the parties to continue their settlement discussions ... to address these concerns,'' Lee wrote. He added later that the proposal was ''a significant step in trying to arrive at a resolution of this highly complex matter."
With the inclusion of athletes from “non-contact” sports included in the deal, Lee wondered if the $70 million figure for testing would be enough. Additionally, Lee had questions about the NCAA’s promise to make its enforcement of return-to-play rules more stringent or if it even had the authority to make all schools adopt these policies.
Ten different lawsuits filed across the country were brought together in this case, led by lead plaintiff Adrian Arrington, a former safety at Eastern Illinois who says he suffered five concussions during his career.
Per filings from the plaintiffs, “tens of thousands” of athletes may need testing to see if they have long-term damage from head injuries. From 2004 to 2009, NCAA figures say that 29,225 athletes suffered concussions, plaintiff filings say.
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