Another Concussion Related Headache for NCAA and SEC

Yet another former football player has been added to the long list of former students suing the NCAA for its alleged negligent treatment of concussions. On June 8, 2016, Orenthal James Owens, a defensive back for the Tennessee Volunteers (2000-2003), filed an action in Indiana federal court claiming that the NCAA and SEC exposed him to the debilitating effects of concussions by turning a blind eye.

During his time with the Volunteers, Owens remembers blacking out and suffering from memory loss following repeated blows to the head during drills. During certain instances, he would complain of vision issues. He alleges that he suffered from numerous concussions each year and that following practice drills, the coaching staff simply sent him back to his room to recover without proper supervision.  According to the complaint, “Tennessee failed to implement any concussion management protocols or policies. Likewise, during that time, Tennessee failed to implement any return to play guidelines.”

The new claim follows a recent wave of lawsuits brought by former student-athletes. Generally, student-athletes are alleging that the SEC and NCAA had knowledge of the long-term dangers associated with concussion related injuries, however, actively concealed the information. Owens alleges that he is now suffering from depression, anxiety, sleeping disorder, and headaches.

The University of Tennessee is not named in the complaint, however, it claims that the NCAA and the SEC an obligation to supervise, regulate, and monitor Tennessee’s athletics’ policies. The complaint further alleges that both the NCAA and SEC should have provided up-to-date policies to minimize the risk of brain damage to Tennessee football players.

The NCAA recently promised to contribute $70 million towards monitoring neurological screening of current and former student-athlete. Nonetheless, six separate suits were filed seeking monetary retribution for concussion related injuries that occurred while on the field. The six lawsuits are brought by former ACC, Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 players.

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