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Preliminary Settlement Reached in NCAA Head Injury Class Action

A preliminary settlement has been reached by former college athletes and the NCAA over a class-action lawsuit by former college athletes over the NCAA's head injury policies. The settlement brings changes to the NCAA's policies regarding the care and safety of current and former athletes and includes a $70 million medical monitoring fund and a new national protocol for head injuries sustained by players during a game.

The settlement does not provide direct financial compensation to those athletes that have already suffered a head injury. Instead, the settlement allows for individual players to sue the NCAA for damages.

While the lead attorney for the class action supports the settlement, stating that the settlement "offers college athletes another level of protection, which is vitally important to their health," another attorney who represents one of the Plaintiffs called the preliminary agreement "terrible" and claimed that it "loses sight of the purpose of the case."

Under the settlement, a medical monitoring fund similar to the one recently proposed in the N.F.L. settlement, would provide all former college athletes with a chance to obtain neurological screening to examine brain function and explore the possibility of any brain damage.

Also under the proposal, athletes would preserve their rights to sue their universities or the NCAA for personal injury and financial damages if brain damage is detected. Additionally, the NCAA would prevent athletes who have sustained a concussion from returning to a game or practice on the day of the injury and trained medical personnel would be required to be present at all contact sport events like football and soccer.

While there are aspects of the settlement that are controversial and the settlement proposal still must be accepted by the judge, the class action has continued to bring awareness to the dangers of concussions and other head injuries suffered during sporting events. Head injuries are a severe problem in college sports, with the NCAA estimating that there were more than 30,000 concussions at colleges from 2004 to 2009.

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