A former University of Texas football player who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the NCAA.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in a Texas federal court, former UT player Julius Whittier, now 64, claims the NCAA failed to protect student athletes from suffering long-term damage related to head injuries. Whittier is seeking at least $5 million in damages in the lawsuit, which was filed on his behalf by his sister Mildred Whittier. CBSSports.com reports the suit "could max out at $50 million in damages."
NCAA Constitution Requires Programs 'Protect the Health' of Players
According to Whittier's lawsuit, the NCAA was created with encouragement from President Teddy Roosevelt, in part to reign in the brutality of college sports, particularly football. As such, the NCAA's Constitution states that it is the association's duty to conduct itself "in a manner designed to protect and enhance the physical and emotional well-being of student athletes" and that "it is the responsibility of each member of the institution to protect the health of, and provide a safe environment for, each of its participating student athletes."
Whittier alleges the NCAA violated its duty to protect athletes by failing to educate players about the long-term health risks of brain injuries caused by repeated head impacts, and by failing to take measures to mitigate or eliminate the risks to players. In addition to his negligence claims, Whittier's lawsuit also claims that the NCAA breached its contract with players by failing to live up to the terms of its agreement with players to provide for athletes' safety and health.
Settlement of Previous Concussion Lawsuits
Whittier's lawsuit comes only months after the NCAA proposed a $75 million settlement to several similar lawsuits filed by former players. The settlement wouldn't have paid damages to injured plaintiffs individually, but would instead establish medical screening and medical monitoring programs. The settlement would also still allow players to file separate personal injury lawsuits.
The NFL is also working to settle a lawsuit by former players regarding the long-term health effects from head injuries. The league has proposed a settlement that would compensate former players or their heirs for the effects of brain injuries, but the settlement is not yet finalized. A final hearing is scheduled for November.