Con­cus­sion change OK’d

Mod­i­fied head- in­jury set­tle­ment puts fo­cus on brain trauma.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Michael Tarm

chicago » A fed­eral judge gave pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval Tues­day to a re­worked head- in­jury set­tle­ment be­tween thou­sands of for­mer ath­letes and the NCAA that in­cludes a $ 70 mil­lion fund to pay for brain trauma test­ing and lim­its le­gal im­mu­nity for the na­tion’s largest col­lege sports gov­ern­ing body.

U. S. District Judge John Lee praised the newdeal for ex­pand­ing po­ten­tial plain­tiffs to ath­letes from sports be­yond foot­ball, hockey and other con­tact sports. But he sug­gested sev­eral changes — most no­tably ones mod­i­fy­ing­what­would have been a blan­ket pro­tec­tion for the NCAA from class- ac­tion law­suits over con­cus­sions, some­thing the or­ga­ni­za­tion may find un­ac­cept­able.

The core of the agree­ment re­mains largely the same. That in­cludes the NCAA cre­at­ing the fund to test cur­rent and for­mer ath­letes for brain in­juries they say they suf­fered while play­ing col­le­giate sports.

The tests would gauge the ex­tent of neu­ro­log­i­cal in­juries and could es­tab­lish grounds for in­di­vid­ual ath­letes seek­ing dam­ages.

The NCAA is also re­quired to toughen re­turn­to­play rules af­ter a con­cus­sion, and all ath­letes will take base­line neu­ro­log­i­cal tests to start each year to help doc­tors de­ter­mine the sever­ity of any con­cus­sion dur­ing the sea­son.

Anew, in­de­pen­den­tMed­i­cal ScienceCom­mit­teewill be tasked with over­see­ing the med­i­cal test­ing.

“To the ex­tent that the Set­tling Plain­tiffs and the NCAA are agree­able to th­ese mod­i­fi­ca­tions or are oth­er­wise able to ad­dress the Court’s con­cerns, pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval of the amended class set­tle­ment is granted,” Lee wrote in his 53- page rul­ing.

The NCAA ad­mits no wrong­do­ing in the set­tle­ment and has de­nied un­der­stat­ing the dan­gers of con­cus­sions.

Its chief le­gal of­fi­cer, Don­ald Remy, is­sued a cau­tiously worded state­ment that did not in­di­cate­whether the or­ga­ni­za­tion might have con­cerns about the rul­ing.

“While we are pleased the court has pro­vided a pre­lim­i­nary path­way to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant re­sources for the med­i­cal mon­i­tor­ing of stu­dent- ath­letes who may suf­fer con­cus­sion, we are still ex­am­in­ing the con­di­tions placed on pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval,” he said.

Jay Edel­son, a Chicagob­ased at­tor­ney for ath­letes who had long op­posed the set­tle­ment, said he was pleased with the judge’s pro­vi­sions for scal­ing back NCAA im­mu­nity from fu­ture suits.

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