NCAA trying to keep documents sealed in wrongful-death lawsuit of D-III player

(Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports)
(Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports)

The NCAA fought hard – and failed – to keep documents sealed in the lawsuit filed by former USC running backs coach Todd McNair.

Now the NCAA is trying again in a different case.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the NCAA asked a Maryland judge to seal documents in a wrongful-death suit filed by the family of a former D-III football player – Frostburg State fullback Derek Sheely – who died after collapsing during a practice in 2011.

Those 14 documents, the NCAA said, would “have a chilling effect on the candid and frank debate necessary to ensure a thoughtful process” relating to potential rule changes for concussions.

From the Times:

The internal emails, memos and meeting minutes in question deal with the NCAA’s response to concussions, including research and proposed rule changes.

In court documents, the NCAA said that allowing the documents to be public “would have a chilling effect on the candid and frank debate necessary to ensure a thoughtful process” and “may be harmful to the NCAA’s legitimate business interests.”

Disclosing the documents could damage “student health and safety” if “picked up by the media,” the NCAA said in the documents.

Attorney’s for the Sheely family said the NCAA’s motivation to keep the documents sealed is to protect itself “from embarrassment and shame.”

In the McNair case, a California appeals court judge wrote: “We are not convinced by the NCAA’s contention that public disclosure of its documents will make future investigations more difficult for the NCAA to conduct.” The court also contended that the NCAA’s bylaws do not fit under “the one-size-fits-all cloak of confidentiality” because it is “neither part of our judicial system nor of our law enforcement apparatus.”

In the Sheely lawsuit, the presiding Maryland judge has not yet ruled on the NCAA’s request to seal the documents. In the lawsuit, filed in 2013, Sheely’s family sued two Frostburg State coaches and an athletic trainer in addition to the NCAA.

“The intense interest in this case shows that the public’s interest and right of access significantly outweigh the NCAA’s self-interest of non-disclosure,” the plaintiffs’ court filing said, per the Times.

A trial is scheduled for September.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!