NCAA Proposed Concussion Settlement Sets New Guidelines

NCAA Proposed Concussion Settlement Sets New Guidelines

The NCAA has reached a $75 million settlement with dozens of college athletes in a class action law suit over head injuries.
The NCAA has reached a $75 million settlement with dozens of college athletes in a class action law suit over head injuries.

The settlement requires mandatory regulations coaches and staff members must follow if a player has a head injury during practice or a game. These requirements mainly include additional testing and ensuring a student-athlete who has a concussion doesn't return to playing without seeing a physician.

These are things Penn State's Director of Athletic Medicine, Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, says the university has been doing for nearly 15 years.

Former Penn State Basketball player, Billy Oliver, experienced Penn State's concussion care five times throughout his tenure on the team. He says the trainers took good care of him.

"As far as Penn State goes, I believe they're on top of things," says Oliver, who played for the team from 2008 to 2012.

"I think from the standpoint of being up to speed, we're right on the cusp," says Dr. Sebastianelli.  "You either get better or worse, you never stay the same so we have to sort of reevaluate everything."

Dr. Sebastianelli says this settlement is a start to raising awareness for younger athletes about the seriousness of head injuries.

"Once the awareness is there, the culture starts to change," says Dr. Sebastianelli.  "In the past, there was a sort of 'Gladiator' mentality.  Now it's recognized that's not really the right thing to do."

Oliver agrees saying he recalls being told to 'walk it off' when he was a young athlete, before coming to college.

Dr. Sebastianelli says that happens in all sports and every athlete is at risk for a head injury.

"We'll never be able to stop concussions," says Dr. Sebastianelli.  "No sport is immune. I've had a concussion in cross country."

Dr. Sebastianelli says a key thing with collegiate athletes is getting them to report their head injuries so they can receive proper care.

Oliver says he did that.

"When I look back on my concussions and how they were treated, I'd say it was mostly Penn State that I dealt with," says Oliver, the Penn State men's basketball captain in 2012.  "I don't think, at least I didn't know at the time, if the NCAA played a big role in it."

Oliver says the settlement seems like a good start for more involvement.

"Healthy players are healthier teams," says Oliver, now a Penn State graduate who is studying for the CPA.  "Better team, better league and a better NCAA in the end."


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