Explaining NCAA’s concussion lawsuits settlement

Questions and answers in the proposed settlement of a series of concussion lawsuits filed against the NCAA by former student athletes.

Q: How much money is involved?

A: The NCAA has agreed to set aside $70 million for a medical monitoring program and another $5 million for research on concussions and other serious head injuries.

Q: How will it work?

A: Any former athlete who competed for an NCAA school is eligible to join a medical monitoring program.

Q: Who will be covered?

A: Any former college athlete who competed for an NCAA school.

Q: Am I covered even if I wasn’t a part of one of the 11 federal lawsuits involved in the settlement?

A: Yes, as long as you fall into the definition of the “class” – all former NCAA athletes.

Q: Did the NCAA admit to any liability?

A: No. According to the proposed settlement agreement, the “NCAA denies and continues to deny each and every allegation of liability, wrongdoing and damages …”

Q: Why was the NFL’s proposed concussion lawsuit settlement, which involves far fewer athletes for so much more money ($765 million)?

A: The NFL agreed to make cash payments to former players – a former player diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), for example, is eligible for a $5 million cash injury settlement in addition to medical monitoring and treatment.

Q: So former college players won’t get any cash payments under this proposed settlement?

A: No – all of the money will be directed to medical monitoring and research.

Q: What will prevent someone from filing a new lawsuit in the future?

A: The proposed settlement will cover all athletes in the “class” – that is, all competitors for NCAA schools no matter when they played. Athletes will be able to pursue injury claims if they contend they have debilitating issues related to concussions – this settlement does not address those.

Q: What does the proposed settlement say about how concussions and other head injuries will be managed in the future?

A: Once the settlement is approved, the NCAA will implement a new plan that will require much more rigorous diagnosis and treatment of head injuries – and uniform return-to-play rules. Among the new guidelines is a requirement that medical professionals trained in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions be present for all games of the so-called “contact sports” – football, lacrosse, wrestling, ice hockey, field hockey, soccer and basketball.

Q: How will former athletes be notified that they are eligible for medical monitoring?

A: The NCAA will work with all of its member schools to identify former athletes and compile a database of their addresses. The administrator of the medical monitoring program will use that database to contact those who are eligible to seek screening.

Q: How will the medical monitoring program be carried out?

A: A five-member panel that includes concussion experts will craft a questionnaire that will be used to screen all former athletes. The results of that questionnaire will be used to identify which former athletes should have a follow-up medical examination.

Q: Where will the medical examinations be conducted?

A: The settlement agreement calls for the establishment of at least 10 regional centers where medical evaluations would be undertaken.

Q: When will this be finalized?

A: U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee must approve the terms of the settlement, a process that may take several months to complete.