NCAA 'denies legal duty' to protect student-athletes, court filing says

By Mike Singer | CBSSports.com

Despite its stated founding principles, the NCAA, in a recent court filing, claimed it's not the organization's responsibility to physically protect student-athletes.

“The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes,” the court filing stated, which was obtained by The Washington Times. “But [the NCAA] admits that it was ‘founded to protect young people from the dangerous and exploitative athletic practices of the time.'”

The court filing came in response to a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of former Frostburg State football player Derek Sheely, who died after he sustained a fatal head injury during a summer practice in 2011.

The family sued the NCAA, helmet manufacturer Schutt Sports, and three Frostburg State coaches after Sheely was allegedly repeatedly permitted to return to an “Oklahoma-style” drill -- a full-force collision between two players -- despite bleeding "profusely" from his forehead.

The initial lawsuit claimed “utter incompetence, egregious misconduct, false hope and a reckless disregard for player healthy and safety,” according to The Washington Times. The suit also claimed that running backs coach Jamie Schumacher told Sheely to “stop your bitching and moaning and quit acting like a pussy and get back out there!”

According to the recent 30-page court filing in Montgomery County (Md) Circuit Court, “The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes, but affirmatively states that under the NCAA Constitution each member institution is responsible for protecting the health of its student-athletes, and that for decades it had provided appropriate information and guidance on concussions to its member institutions.”

The NCAA revised its lengthy rulebook in 2010, adding that each school must create a policy to handle player concussions. But according to The Washington Times, the NCAA has done little to enforce the revision and “no school has been investigated or punished for violating the rule.”

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