NCAA Athletes Granted Deadline Extension to Opt Out of Concussion Settlement
Judge John Lee, an Illinois federal judge, extended the opt out or objection date for the NCAA concussion settlement. Class members now have until August 4, 2017 to exclude themselves or object to the settlement. The settlement impacts an estimated 4.4 million current and former NCAA student-athletes in 43 different sports. In July 2016, Judge Lee pre-approved the $75 million settlement fund. The proposed fund earmarks $70 million for a 50-year medical monitoring program to screen student-athletes for head injuries. The additional $5 million will be used for researching preventive measures and concussion effects. Besides the funds, the NCAA would be required to revamp their concussion protocols. Each athlete will under a pre-season baseline test to better diagnosis any concussion suffered during the season. If a concussion is diagnosed, the injured player must be cleared by a physician before being allowed to return.
In order to participate in the medical monitoring program, class members do not have to do anything at this time. Only those athletes that wish to be excluded from the settlement must send in a written request. The Fairness Hearing for the settlement is re-scheduled for September 22, 2017.
Last July, this settlement deal was granted preliminary approval, but individual schools have not been overly cooperative. Subpoenas were issued to 300 schools who failed to disclose their student athletes’ contact information. Over 25 schools that were subpoenaed have yet to respond. The information was initially requested by September 2016 and Judge Lee has warned the NCAA that schools may be held in contempt if the information is not disclosed shortly.
Even if the settlement is fully approved, there will still be concussion-related lawsuits pending against the NCAA. Numerous athletes have filed personal-injury lawsuits and the settlement does not preclude those from proceeding.