“This is a very high-value lawsuit.”

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.



Filed under See You In Court, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

5 responses to ““This is a very high-value lawsuit.”

  1. Go Dawgs!

    I don’t know what this means for all of the injuries which have occurred in the past. It seems at this point, though, that people who choose to participate in football in 2016 are doing so with some sort of knowledge that it can have long term impact on your health. Even with all of the changes to the game that have taken place and will take place, it’s a dangerous game. It can be a very rewarding game and it’s my favorite game, but it’s dangerous. Surely, playing football in 2016 indicates informed consent to the risks involved.

    I hope that coaches in football, ours included, are taking player health issues very seriously. I hope so because I want our players (and all players, really) to live long happy lives. But also because I don’t want football to ever be in danger of going away. If that means fewer or no “he got Jack’d UP!” type collisions, I’m OK with that. I don’t know how well a team can get ready to play with only one full-contact practice a week, but if everyone agrees to disarm and try it, so be it. All that said, I don’t want Georgia to be the only team to unilaterally disarm and go into, say, the Florida game with less hard practice time than the Gators. If change is gonna come, it has to be mandatory and it has to be enforced.


  2. Normaltown Mike

    Why would they settle for such a paltry sum?

    I know that they aren’t after money, but I would expect the attorney fees to be tens of thousands so I’m curious what the purpose of settling is.

    In truth, 1.6 million is an extremely low sum when you look at the lifetime earnings that a young man with a college degree would have over the next 50 years.


  3. “I’m sure you know the difference between a recommendation and a requirement. So do college coaches”
    It is a rule that is actually more of a guideline. I hope that cleared it up for you and the coaches, 50k is chicken feed ,this virtually the definition of nuisance value. We don’t know., possibly,pre-existing medical condition more likely that NCAA was legally correct,they don’t have the primary duty for the player’s safety . The primary duty for keeping a player safe,in college (they are over 18) is the player and the next most responsible(secondary duty) is the coach on scene who can actually see whether a kid is leading with their head or concussed. Making the NCAA responsible when they many states way would be legally illogical. Maybe the trainers in this case were incompetent there is some potential responsibility……or the kid was wearing a defective helmet we don’t know…..The point is ….trying to hold the NCAA legally and financially responsible is the definition of prejudice. Most of us us on this blog have no use for the NCAA but that does not mean they are legally or financially for every bad outcome on football fields. You don’t make the NCAA the scapegoat just because you don’t like the organization…..the party closest to the problem and has the power to fix it is where the duty should belong not just the entity we hate the most.


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