NCAA Agrees to Controversial Concussion Settlement: $70M for Testing, $15M for Attorneys, $0 for Players

Source: Jon Solomon/CBS Sports

CHICAGO — The NCAA has reached a preliminary settlement in a class-action lawsuit over concussions brought by former college athletes. As previously reported by CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd, the agreement filed Tuesday calls for the NCAA to provide $70 million for concussion testing and diagnosis of current and former NCAA players to settle several claims.

Unlike the NFL’s proposed $765 million concussion settlement, the NCAA’s proposed agreement covers only diagnostic medical expenses. It preserves college athletes’ rights to sue their universities or the NCAA for personal-injury damages, although some opponents of the settlement say the agreement is not a good one.

The NCAA settlement was filed Tuesday morning in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois. It still requires the approval of Judge John Z. Lee, who held a hearing Tuesday afternoon on the matter without yet issuing a ruling.

The settlement establishes a 50-year medical monitoring program for all current and former college athletes in any sport, with $75 million going toward screening for long-term brain damage and $5 million going to research. The NCAA agreed not to oppose attorneys’ fees up to $15 million out of the $75 million assigned for medical monitoring and research.

However, many question whether the settlement is fair to the actual players and whether the NCAA and the concussion plaintiffs can get the settlement approved.  For example, Attorney Jay Edelson, who represents former San Diego State football player Andy Nichols and former Pittsburgh football player Frank Moore, said there is a “large camp” of attorneys and clients who are very concerned about the settlement and plan to oppose it.

“What the case was originally about was people who suffered real injuries from concussions,” Edelson said. “If you look at the NFL settlement, and I’m not taking a position whether it’s good or bad, there’s going to be people who gets hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash. Here nobody is getting anything. I think we lost focus of what the purpose of the case was: get cash in people’s hands.”

Further, Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association, said the settlement has “red flags written all over it.” Huma said the NCAA’s “shameful handling of concussions” is the primary reason he is trying to unionize college sports.Huma said protections mentioned in the settlement for athletes moving forward would be suggested guidelines that are unenforceable.

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