NCAA Sued Again

November 27, 2018

On Wednesday, a federal lawsuit was filed against the NCAA, alleging that it sacrificed student-athletes' safety and well-being "in favor of profits and self-promotion."

According to IndyStar, Vincent Circelli, an attorney from Fort Worth, Texas, filed the lawsuit representing Jeffrey Williams and other former student-athletes, most of whom played football. He is seeking class action designation for the Williams lawsuit and 20 others that were recently filed, which could result in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damages.

The lawsuit alleges that the NCAA was aware of the danger of concussions "by the early-1990s at the latest,” but did nothing about it.

"Despite this knowledge, the NCAA and its member conferences suppressed and kept secret from student athletes information about the extent of concussion injuries in NCAA college football and their long-term consequences," Circelli said.

Circelli accused the NCAA of having lost sight of its original purpose: player safety.

"The NCAA was founded way back when there were deaths on the football field due to gang tackling," Circelli said. "Teddy Roosevelt said, 'Hey, get the college presidents together. I don't want to see football go away. We need to make safety changes to the sport so we can keep it alive and thriving.'”

Former football player Cullen Finnerty's widow, Jennifer Finnerty, filed a lawsuit alleging that the NCAA failed to educate him about the dangers of head trauma. Finnerty died of pneumonia in 2013, after going missing on a fishing trip, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy is believed to have played a role in his death.

"Mr. Finnerty relied upon the NCAA's authority and guidance to protect his health and safety by treating and preventing head-related injuries, including the effects of those head injuries later on in his life," the lawsuit said. "As compared to Mr. Finnerty, the NCAA was in a superior position to know of and mitigate the risks of him sustaining concussions and other TBIs while playing football at the University of Toledo and Grand Valley State University. It failed to do so."

The NCAA argued that Finnerty assumed the risks associated with football by voluntarily choosing to play, and he did not suffer injuries caused by any of the NCAA's actions.

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