It’s hardly more than a good start, if that. The NCAA puts up $70 million in a fund that can be accessed by players to screen as to whether any suffer head-injury problems, but no money is set aside for actual damages. Instead, any player with issues will have to sue to collect compensation.
There are some agreed to mandates on current policy…
— Preseason baseline testing for every athlete for each season in which he or she competes
— Prohibition from return to play on the same day an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion. Generally accepted medical protocols recommend athletes not return to play the same day if they exhibit signs of a concussion or are diagnosed with one, but a 2010 survey of certified athletic trainers conducted by the NCAA found that nearly half reported that athletes had returned to play the same day.
— Requirement that medical personnel be present for all games and available for practices for all contact sports, defined in the settlement as football, lacrosse, wrestling, ice hockey, field hockey, soccer and basketball. Those personnel must be trained in the diagnosis, treatment and management of concussions.
— Implementation of concussion tracking in which schools will report concussions and their resolution
— Requirement that schools provide NCAA-approved training to athletes, coaches and athletic trainers before each season
— Education for faculty on the academic accommodations needed for students with concussions
… but also a question as to how far those mandates go.
Huma told ESPN the settlement also falls short of protecting current players because it does not mandate new return-to-play protocols. Instead, the NCAA and the plaintiffs agreed that remaining guidelines for schools and the implementation of those guidelines are subject to the NCAA’s rule-making process.
“And we know what the regular NCAA rule-making process is like. It could take years, or they could shoot it down,” Huma said. “The settlement represents yet another refusal of the NCAA to protect players from unnecessary brain trauma. Instead of agreeing to rules that protect players’ brains by reducing contact in practices and mandatory return-to-play protocols, such protections would remain optional.”
He has a point about the NCAA’s rule-making process.
And one other thing – that $70 million isn’t all for screening.
The NCAA, which in the settlement denied the plaintiffs’ allegations, agreed not to oppose attorneys’ fees up to $15 million. Those fees and expenses would come out of the $75 million assigned for medical monitoring and research.
So, progress of a sort, at best. And the agreement still has to be approved by the court. In other words, this one has a long way to go.