Adrian Arrington, a former football student-athlete at Eastern Illinois University, filed suit against the NCAA and NCAA Football (collectively “NCAA”) challenging the NCAA’s policies related to concussions and concussion-related maladies. Arrington claims the NCAA “has failed its student-athletes—choosing instead to sacrifice them on an altar of money and profits. The NCAA has engaged in a long established pattern of negligence and inaction with respect to concussions…all while profiting immensely from those same student-athletes.” Specifically, Arrington points to the NCAA’s failure to correct or address the tackling methods taught by coaches throughout college football that lead to head injuries and he further claims that the NCAA has failed to implement system-wide “return to play” guidelines for student-athletes who have sustained concussions.
According to Arrington, the NCAA has turned a “blind eye” to student-athletes being coached to use all portions of their helmet to “block, tackle, butt, spear, ram, and/or injure opposing players by hitting with their helmeted heads.” Arrington claims the NCAA has had knowledge of the damage caused by these practices and actually partially funded a University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (“UNC”) study that concluded NCAA football players required an average of five to seven days after a concussion for their cognitive functioning to return to normal. Indeed, another UNC study, also partially funded by the NCAA, found that NCAA football players who had a history of concussions are at an increased risk of sustaining additional future concussions. As stated by Arrington, despite having knowledge of the risks exhibited by the UNC studies in 2003, the NCAA failed to implement legislation requiring its member schools to have a concussion management plan until 2010.
Arrington has filed a class action lawsuit seeking to define a class as:
All former NCAA football players who sustained a concussion(s) or suffered concussion-like symptoms while playing football at an NCAA school, and who have, since ending their NCAA careers, developed chronic headaches, chronic dizziness or dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and/or other physical and mental problems as a result of the concussion(s) suffered while a player.
Arrington has set forth causes of action for negligence, fraudulent concealment, and medical monitoring.