Former College Football Player Sues NCAA over Concussions, Wants to Be Rolled into Larger Class Action

A former University of Texas football player wants to be the lead plaintiff in a class-action concussion lawsuit against the NCAA.

Julius Whittier, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in August 2012, played for the Longhorns from 1969 to 1972. His sister, Mildred Whittier, filed the lawsuit on his behalf in federal court.

The plaintiff is seeking to represent all former NCAA football players residing in the U.S. who played from 1960 – 2014 who did not go on to play professional football in the NFL and who have been diagnosed with a latent brain injury or disease.

The lawsuit alleges that the NCAA was negligent in that it failed to do enough to protect its student-athletes from head injuries despite the organization’s constitution (article 2, 2.2.3) requiring that each member school “protect the health of, and provide a safe environment for” its players.

He further alleges that the NCAA breached its duty to protect college football players “in the face of long-standing and overwhelming evidence regarding the need to do so. The NCAA has ignored this duty and profited immensely from its inaction and denial,” alleged the plaintiff, “all to the detriment of the players.”

Whittier is represented by Houston attorney Dwight E. Jefferson, a graduate of the University of Texas Law School, who played for the Longhorns in the late 1970s. He told the Austin American Statesman that he hopes the lawsuit will be rolled into the larger class-action suit that’s being litigated in Chicago.

He told the paper that “I laud the NCAA for what they’ve done in coming to the table. But I think in order to say that we have a settlement that is fair, there has to be some component of it to address those persons who are currently suffering. Especially when we see how much money the NCAA makes off collegiate sports. It’s a lot.”

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