The NCAA finally addressed the leading cause of death of among football players in the last decade.
The association announced Tuesday that its Legislative Council approved legislation mandating all Division I schools test for sickle cell trait.
As part of a lawsuit settled last year, the NCAA said it would begin merely recommending to members that it test for the trait. Sickle cell trait had become the leading cause of death among football players since 2000. The settlement came about after the family of Rice player Dale Lloyd, who passed in 2006, filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
The NCAA has documented sickle cell trait deaths going back 35 years. However, it had never formally recommended testing for the trait, in part, because of legal concerns. The test is relatively inexpensive, from $5 to $30 per player.
According to Oklahoma trainer Scott Anderson, a leading authority on the subject, before the legislation approximately 64 percent of NCAA schools test for the trait. However, as the deaths and lawsuits piled up, scrutiny increased. Pending an autopsy result, an Ole Miss player who died in February could become the ninth victim of the condition since 1990.
Sickle cell is an inherited condition that occurs in approximately 8 percent (one in 12) of the country's African-American population. Caucasians are susceptible at a much lower rate.
During extreme exertion, the trait can cause complications. Those with the trait who are not properly acclimated to during workouts can have their red blood cells "sickle". Those cells can accumulate in the bloodstream causing a "log jam" and leading to the rapid breakdown of muscles and organs.
Sickle cell trait is a condition, not a disease and is inherited from parents.