Last week, the NCAA and plaintiffs in several concussion lawsuits reached a settlement totaling $70 million. Being that the concussion litigation involves class action suits, the settlement must be approved by the Court. The terms of the proposed settlement are:
1. How much are student-athletes being paid? Unlike the NFL concussion settlement, the proposed NCAA settlement will not directly compensate student-athletes who suffered trauma associated with concussions. The NCAA, however, will administer and fund a testing program to determine the extent of brain trauma and injuries to determine any future claims by athletes for monetary damages against the NCAA and member institutions. The failure to compensate athletes who are suffering from trauma has drawn the ire of Ramogi Huma of the National College Players Association.
2. Who is involved? The settlement agreement involves “all persons who played an NCAA-sanctioned sport at an NCAA member institution” for the past 50 years.
3. What do the settlement funds go towards? The funds from the settlement will primarily be used to fund a medical monitoring program used to determine the extent of injuries and post-concussion symptoms. Student-athletes desiring to participate in the medical monitoring program will be required to complete a screening questionnaire in order to qualify for physical exams, neurocognitive assessments, and neurological measurements. If the athlete meets a predetermined score based on the testing, then the athlete will be eligible for medical evaluation in accordance with the medical monitoring program. The medical monitoring program will be administered by four agreed upon medical professionals with expertise in neurodegenerative disease.
4. Will there be education provided? Yes, a major component of the settlement is educational initiatives on how to treat and prevent concussions. The NCAA has agreed to prepare and draft educational materials to be provided to academic faculty on how to accommodate injured athletes, concussion education and training for student-athletes, coaches, and trainers, and $5 million towards concussion research.
5. Will there be return-to-play guidelines? Yes, the settlement specifically addresses return-to-play guidelines to protect student-athlete safety. According to the settlement agreement, each student-athlete will receive pre-season baseline testing, student-athletes will be prohibited from returning to practice or a game in the same day the athlete suffers a concussion, and the athlete must receive medical clearance prior to returning to practice and/or competition.