Today, the NCAA reached a preliminary $75 million settlement for the various concussion-based class actions that were consolidated in In Re National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the NCAA and its insurers would establish a $70 million medical monitoring fund that provides all former collegiate athletes the opportunity to receive up to two neurological screenings to examine for symptoms of traumatic concussive brain injuries. The NCAA and its member schools would pay an additional $5 million for concussion research. The proposed settlement also institutes a new national protocol for head injuries that requires baseline testing for all athletes prior to each season, prevents athletes who have sustained a concussion from returning to the activity that same day and mandates the presence of medical personal at all contact sporting events.
Although similar to the proposed $675 million settlement in the NFL concussion class action, the NCAA’s settlement differs in several respects. First, the NCAA settlement provides funding only for diagnostic medical testing as opposed to ongoing medical treatment. Second, collegiate athletes would not forfeit their right to assert individual claims against either the NCAA or their respective universities for traumatic concussive brain injuries. This is an important distinction because while there are approximately 20,000 former NFL players, there are over five million former and current collegiate student-athletes. Should these athletes require additional medical treatment, they would have to seek coverage through their own insurers and ultimately pursue individual damages claims.
If the proposed settlement is endorsed by Judge John Z. Lee, pending an open comment period final approval could be granted by year’s end. The agreement can be found here.