Word comes that the parties to the suit filed by the parents of Derek Sheely, the football player who died from concussion-related injuries, have reached a settlement.
The Board of Public Works approved the state’s part of the deal Wednesday. The three-member panel voted in favor of the proposed $50,000 payout to the family of Derek Sheely, who died in 2011 after he collapsed on the practice field from a traumatic brain injury.
The Maryland attorney general’s office became involved because the family filed a $1.6 million lawsuit that named three state employees — two coaches and an assistant trainer at Frostburg — among the defendants.
While the state financial settlement is relatively small, the potential reach of the case is significant.
The lead defendant is the NCAA, the governing body for college athletics in the United States. In recent years, the NCAA has come under fire for its reluctance to impose rules on colleges and universities for recognizing and preventing potentially lethal concussion-related injuries.
If you’ll recall, this is the litigation that brought out the NCAA’s callousness to an unprecedented level, which is saying something. Even the grand poobah admitted that.
By settling, the NCAA and the other defendants can avoid the publicity of a high-profile trial. Among those who could have been called to testify was NCAA President Mark Emmert, who said in a deposition in the case that he had not heard of second-impact syndrome.
The family contends that the NCAA has known of the syndrome’s danger since the 1990s.
Emmert told Congress in 2014 that the NCCA made a “terrible choice of words” when it contended in the Sheely case that it had no legal duty to protect student-athletes.
What’s worth keeping an eye on here is the remedy that the two sides are in the process of fashioning in the settlement. It’s not about the money, apparently, as there’s only $50,000 being paid and Sheely’s parents aren’t keeping that.
The $50,000 settlement with Maryland would go to a foundation named after Derek Sheely.
Among the changes the Sheelys have sought are a ban on certain football drills, limits on practices, and suspensions for coaches who violate rules that protect athletes’ health. They have also called for more education about concussions, and for NCAA investigations in cases such as their son’s.
Is the NCAA really prepared after all this time to put some real teeth into practice protocol? I have no idea, but will note this was announced yesterday:
The NCAA football oversight committee recommended Division I football programs hold only one “live-contact” practice per week.
The current guidelines, which are not enforceable rules, allow two live practices per week. The new guidelines announced Wednesday will take effect this season.
I’m sure you know the difference between a recommendation and a requirement. So do college coaches.