Bloomberg News

NCAA Sued By Ex-College Football Players Over Head Injuries

September 28, 2011

(Updates with NCAA spokesman in fifth paragraph.)

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association was sued by two former college football players who claim the organization failed to enforce safety measures to protect them from concussions.

Former University of Central Arkansas wide receiver Derek K. Owens and former Northwestern University offensive lineman Alex Rucks allege the NCAA turned a blind eye to coaches who teach players to use their heads for tackling, failed to establish a system for screening head injuries and shirked its financial obligations to injured student athletes, according to complaint filed in federal court in Chicago today.

The lawsuit seeks to represent all ex-student football players who sustained concussions and developed chronic headaches, dizziness and mental or physical problems and incurred doctor bills for the illnesses after college.

The complaint also seeks a court order barring coaching of tackling methods that can cause head injuries and establishing a policy for when players can return to play after a head injury. It also asks for a program to medically monitor ex-players and unspecified damages.

“We believe that the complaint, which is merely a copycat of a complaint filed last week, contains gross misstatements about the NCAA and demonstrates that these plaintiffs’ attorneys have a fundamental misunderstanding of the association,” Chris Radford, an NCAA spokesman, said in an e-mail. “We have specifically addressed the issue of head injuries through a combination of playing rules, equipment requirements and medical best practices.”

The case is Owens v. NCAA, 11-6816, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

--Editors: Mary Romano, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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