NCAA and Student-Athletes Request Final Approval of $75 Million Settlement
On September 29, 2017, former student-athletes asked the Illinois federal court to approve the $75 million settlement against the NCAA for head trauma. With the reports of young NFL players diagnosed with brain damage after death, the former student-athletes insist that the medical monitoring part of the deal cannot come soon enough. The final approval hearing is scheduled to be heard before the judge in November.
The former student-athletes argued that the settlement is ready for final approval because the evaluation of the student-athletes’ claims compared to the settlement’s benefits is reasonable. The settlement would distribute $70 million to the class members, and then the remaining $5 million is for concussion research and changes to the NCAA’s concussions guidelines. In addition, the settlement would create a 50-year medical monitoring program. The student-athletes stated the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable because there is essentially no likelihood of a nationwide negligence claim to be certified. Additionally, of the 4 million class members, only 22 filed objections to the settlement. Of those 22 objections, the most common, other than the class counsel’s fee request, is the concern that the settlement does not provide for compensatory damages or medical expenses. The student-athletes argued that the medical monitoring system would be sufficient for those suffering or who will suffer from head trauma.
The NCAA addressed one of the objections that was brought by a subclass of women’s lacrosse players in August. The women’s lacrosse players — led by former Hofstra University player Samantha Greiber who already has an individual suit against the NCAA and Hofstra for negligence — argued the settlement robs the players of the chance to change NCAA rules about helmet usage in women’s lacrosse. The NCAA stated that the female lacrosse players misunderstand the settlement because they are still able to sue their individual schools and the NCAA to get the helmet rule changes. According to the NCAA, the female lacrosse players’ argument is not about the release of the settlement, but instead seeking additional and supplemental relief that is beyond the relief provided to the other NCAA-sanctioned sports. If the settlement is approved in November, it would finally reach an end that has been attempted since the first proposed settlement in July 2014.