NCAA Concussion Victims File Suit In Wake Of NFL Settlement

Although in many cases, the NFL follows the lead of NCAA football – the sweeping NFL popularity of the read-option offense, imported from college teams, is a prime example – college players are hoping to mimic the success of NFL players in the courtroom. Just a week after a group of former professional players secured a $765 million settlement with the NFL in a concussion lawsuit, three former NCAA players are suing the college sports association over similar issues.

The class action lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Tennessee, features three former college football players as lead plaintiffs. Dan Ahern, a North Carolina State athlete in the 1970s, along with Ben Martin and Chris Walker, who were Tennessee players from 2007 to 2011, claim the NCAA inadequately educated players about the risks and effects of concussions. Additionally, the plaintiffs allege the NCAA failed to take adequate action in concussion prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

According to the attorney for the former players, the NCAA failed to protect college athletes despite the fact that “the medical tools to assist them have been available for some time.” Because none of the three players played in the NFL, any lingering concussion problems may be traceable to their participation in college sports programs. While Ahren suffered a concussion while playing – one that required a hospital stay during his senior season – Martin and Walker cited repeated trauma in games, practices, and scrimmages as the source of injury.

Ahren says that due to his concussion, he suffers from an inability to sleep, lack of focus and concentration, and a ringing in his ears. Meanwhile, Martin and Walker say that the physical trauma of college football is to blame for the serious headaches they suffer.

The fact that the former NFL players managed to reach a favorable settlement is not conclusive evidence that the former NCAA players will experience similar success. The NFL litigation featured a class of more than 4,500 former players, and the settlement was reached with the assistance of a court-appointed mediator. In addition to the large monetary portion of the settlement, the agreement also mandates that the NFL offer medical and a variety of other types of benefits to the players.

However similar or different the claims in the NCAA litigation are to the NFL suit, one thing is certain – the litigation will take time. The complexity of class actions tends to compound the time required for agreements to be reached, so a long road may be ahead for the NCAA plaintiffs.