Congresswoman Calls on NCAA to Review Concussion Policy

Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38) has sent a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) asking it to ensure that college athletic departments are taking proper action to protect players from head injuries.

The recent death of Derek Sheely, a 22 year-old football player and student at Frostburg State University, who suffered a head injury during football practice and later died, was the catalyst for the letter, according to a press release.

“Something is clearly wrong when a player like Mr. Sheely is allowed to return to the playing field despite suffering a head injury,” she said. “It is time for the NCAA to review its concussion policy and take stronger measures to protect the safety of its students.”

Her office went on to cite the following stats: “Between 2004 and 2009 there were more than 29,000 reported concussions in college sports, with more than half of them occurring in football. The NCAA’s current concussion policy varies widely in scope, language and requirements. Furthermore, there are no guidelines in place to ensure that schools are enforcing the NCAA’s policies. A 2010 survey of NCAA trainers found that more than half of the schools did not require student athletes who suffered a concussion to see a physician.”

She added: “Student athletes deserve to know that there are policies in place that will protect them in the event they suffer an injury on the field. Concussions can happen to an athlete of any age, any league, and any sport. These young people might play in non-revenue sports, but that does not mean they should be ignored. My hope is that the NCAA will further focus on head injuries and develop safety plans that encompass all sports, not just football.”

In 2007, Congresswoman Sánchez chaired a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law to examine if the NFL’s player disability plan was adequately serving former players, many of whom suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of multiple concussions. Since then, Congress had held hearings on concussions in the 110th and 111th Congress, “which resulted in greater public awareness and changes to how football teams address player concussions on all levels of play,” according to her office.


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