Topeka, Kan. • Former University of Kansas fullback Christopher Powell alleges in a lawsuit that the NCAA failed to adequately protect athletes from head trauma.
The class-action lawsuit, filed this week in the in the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri, seeks an undetermined amount in damages for Powell and other athletes who suffered head trauma in college, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Powell, of Kansas City, Mo., said in his filing he had at least four concussions while playing for Kansas from 1990 to 1994. He alleges that after one concussion sustained during a practice, he lost memory for about 24 hours.
Powell said he continues to suffer neurologic and cognitive deficits that require medical monitoring and out-of-pocket expenses. He alleges that said the NCAA was negligent in its "failure to take effective action to protect players and/or inform players of the true risks associated with concussions, brain injury and brain trauma."
The University of Kansas is not a named defendant in Powell's suit.
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an email that the association hasn't been served with the complaint yet.
"However," she wrote, "it appears to be patterned after other proposed class action litigation filed recently. It is not unusual to see this action from plaintiff's attorneys trying to secure a lead position in litigation of similar cases."
As more attention is placed on concussions in sports, many leagues, including the NFL and the NHL, have implemented stricter rules on hits to the head and player safety. The NCAA has taken recent steps to boost awareness of how to treat possible head injuries, from legislation and outreach efforts to new rules on the playing field.
Similar lawsuits to Powell's have been filed against the NCAA recently, including one in U.S. District Court of Chicago that attorneys want to expand nationwide to encompass thousands of plaintiffs.
Powell's suit, however, faults the NCAA for failing to implement system-wide "return to play" guidelines for post-concussion treatment, and for failing to deal with the coaching of tackling techniques that lead to head injuries. It also faults the NCAA for profiting monetarily while providing no post-collegiate financial aid or medical treatment to former players who deal with the lifelong consequences of head trauma.
"They have failed to establish known protocols to prevent, mitigate, monitor, diagnose and treat brain injuries," Powell charged in court documents. "As knowledge of the adverse consequences of head impacts in football has grown, the NCAA has never gone back to college football players to offer education or needed medical monitoring."