What was the NCAA lawsuit about?
A former football student-athlete and former men’s soccer student-athlete who played at NCAA member schools each filed a class action lawsuit against the NCAA, on behalf of themselves and then-current and former student-athletes. The cases were eventually consolidated and added additional named plaintiffs who claimed that the NCAA was negligent and had breached its duty to protect all then-current and former student-athletes by failing to (1) adopt appropriate rules regarding concussions and/or (2) manage the risks from concussions. The named plaintiffs sought medical monitoring for all current and former student-athletes, as well as changes to the NCAA’s return-to-play guidelines for student-athletes who had suffered concussions or concussion symptoms.
The NCAA denied and continues to deny all allegations of liability and wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the Parties to the Litigation have reached a Settlement, which has received final approval by the Court. The Settlement became final and unconditional on November 18, 2019.Back To Top
Does the Settlement pertain to me? What if I was never diagnosed with a concussion?
The Settlement pertains to you and you are a member of the Settlement Class if you played an NCAA-sanctioned sport at an NCAA member institution at any time on or prior to July 15, 2016, and you did not exclude yourself (“opt out”) from the settlement. You do not need to have been diagnosed with a concussion to be a member of the Settlement Class.Back To Top
Why is my social security number required as part of online registration?
In order to prevent fraud and ensure program integrity, your personal information (including your date of birth and social security number) will be collected during registration by the Medical Monitoring Program Administrator and will be used to verify your identity. Further, the collection of Personal Identifying Information (PII) and Protected Health Information (PHI) by the Medical Monitoring Program Administrator is necessary to facilitate the administration of the program including the analysis of Screening Questionnaire submissions and communication with Qualified Providers who complete Medical Evaluations for Qualifying Settlement Class Members. Health systems use personal identifiers such as social security number and date of birth to verify patient identity and confirm that the right person has authorized the release of personal health information.
The Medical Monitoring Program Administrator has mechanisms in place to protect the security of Settlement Class Member PII and PHI. A full-time dedicated security team ensures that the highest industry standards of physical and network security measures are in place to ensure protection of PII and PHI in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The Settlement Class Member will be asked to provide his/her social security number and date of birth for registration and to complete the HIPAA authorization form, however, the Program Administrator will never request this information from you by email or any other method. If anyone contacts you related to the Medical Monitoring Program requesting your social security number or personal information, do not respond to the message or click on any links. Please contact the Program Administrator by calling 1-877-209-9898 to confirm the validity of any such request.Back To Top
Background On Concussions And Subconcussive Hits
What is a concussion?
Concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) that involves a complex pathophysiological process that disturbs brain function. Although concussions most commonly occur after a direct blow to the head, they can occur after a blow elsewhere in the body that transmits forces to the head.Back To Top
What are the symptoms of concussion?
When a concussion occurs, there is a traumatically induced alteration of brain function that may include a rapid onset of cognitive impairment (such as impairment to the mental processes of perception, learning, memory, judgment, and reasoning). The short-term effects of concussion typically resolve by themselves.
Other concussion symptoms may include:
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Loss of consciousness
- Double or fuzzy vision
- Feeling unusually irritable
- Slowed reaction time
You may have suffered a concussion if you experienced any of these symptoms while playing an NCAA sport, even if you were not formally diagnosed with a concussion.
You do not need to have lost consciousness to have suffered a concussion.Back To Top
What is a subconcussive hit?
Subconcussive hits, or impacts, do not produce any clinical concussion symptoms, but may adversely affect brain function in the same way symptomatic concussions do. Some published data suggest the possibility that subconcussive hits can lead to changes in the brain that are similar to the changes observed in players that actually suffer concussions. The data are based on cases of high school and college football players who did not exhibit clinical signs of concussion and did not report symptoms of concussion, but nonetheless had physiological and structural changes to the brain.Back To Top
Do concussions only occur in football?
Many people associate concussion with football, but they can occur in any sport and often occur in what are commonly referred to as contact sports like soccer, ice hockey, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, and wrestling.Back To Top
What symptoms may signal that I should participate in the Medical Monitoring Program?
Acute Symptoms. If you currently are a student-athlete, speak to your team physician, private physician, and/or athletic trainer immediately if you experience any of the following acute symptoms after receiving a blow to the head (or a body blow that may have jolted the head):
- Balance issues
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drowsiness, fatigue, low energy
- Feeling more emotional
- Headache or head pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Neck pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Sleeping less than usual
- Trouble falling asleep
- Difficulty remembering
- Not “feeling right”
- Feeling in a fog
- Feeling slowed down
- Nausea or vomiting
- Nervousness or anxiousness
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Sleeping more than usual
- Visual problems or blurred vision
These symptoms may not occur immediately following the trauma but may become noticeable over the next day or two. It is important to remember that the symptoms listed above could also be caused by something other than concussion. Note that other kinds of symptoms may appear, as well.
Only a qualified medical professional should help determine whether the symptoms may be related to concussion.
Delayed Symptoms. If you are a current or former athlete, speak to your personal physician or other appropriate health care provider if you experience a new onset of any of the following delayed symptoms:
- Poor memory of recent events
- Problems with organization, planning, judgment, or multi-tasking
- Mood changes, including depression, hopelessness, or thoughts of suicide
- Difficulties with speech, gait, or strength
- Language or spatial difficulties
- Difficulty learning new information
- Problems with attention, concentration, or orientation
- Changes in behavior, including having a “short fuse,” irritability, rage, aggression, or problems with impulse control
Both Current and Former Student-Athletes. If you continue to experience any of the symptoms listed above, you may decide to complete a Screening Questionnaire to determine whether you qualify for a Medical Evaluation in the Medical Monitoring Program.Back To Top
The Medical Monitoring Program
What is the Medical Monitoring Program?
The Medical Monitoring Program will screen Settlement Class Members to determine if they are qualified to receive an in-person Medical Evaluation. (Those Settlement Class Members who qualify for an in-person Medical Evaluation are “Qualifying Class Members.”) The program will then provide Qualifying Class Members with a Medical Evaluation designed to assess symptoms related post-concussion symptoms as well as cognitive, mood, behavioral, and motor problems that may be associated with certain mid- to late-life onset brain diseases and disorders.Back To Top
What is the Medical Science Committee, and what are its responsibilities?
The Parties agreed to create a Medical Science Committee to determine the scope of the Medical Evaluations provided under the Medical Monitoring Program. The Medical Science Committee also created the Screening Questionnaire and Screening Criteria used to determine if a Settlement Class Member qualifies for a Medical Evaluation. The Expert Report of the Medical Science Committee is available by clicking here.
The Medical Science Committee is comprised of four (4) medical experts with expertise in the diagnosis, care, and management of concussions in sport and mid- to late-life neurodegenerative disease, and a neutral Chair of the Medical Science Committee. The current members of the Medical Science Committee are Dr. Brian Hainline, Dr. Robert Cantu, Dr. Ruben Echemendia and Dr. Robert Stern. The Honorable Wayne R. Andersen (Ret.) serves as Chair.Back To Top
How can I qualify for Medical Evaluations?
If you are a Settlement Class Member and want to participate in the Medical Monitoring Program, you must complete a Screening Questionnaire. Your answers will determine whether you qualify for an in-person Medical Evaluation.
You also should complete a questionnaire if you are concerned that you may be at risk for long-term effects from any concussions or the accumulation of subconcussive hits you experienced while playing in NCAA-sanctioned sports at member institutions.
The questionnaire was prepared by the Court-appointed Medical Science Committee.Back To Top
How do I get started?
The Medical Monitoring Program began on February 18, 2020. If you are an eligible Settlement Class Member and want to participate, you may register online here.Back To Top
Where can I get a Screening Questionnaire?
The Screening Questionnaire is available for completion online here. (Note that you must register successfully before you can complete a Screening Questionnaire.) If you prefer to complete a printed questionnaire by hand, you can request one by writing to the Program Administrator at NCAA Concussion Settlement Program Administrator, 9144 Arrowpoint Blvd., Suite 400, Charlotte NC 28273, by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 1-877-209-9898.Back To Top
What happens after I submit the questionnaire?
After scoring your completed questionnaire, the Program Administrator will notify you if you qualify for a Medical Evaluation. If you qualify, the Program Administrator also will explain how to arrange for a Medical Evaluation.Back To Top
How often can I apply for a Medical Evaluation?
A Settlement Class Member may complete a Screening Questionnaire not more than once every five (5) years until the age of 50, and then not more than once every two (2) years after the age of 50, unless otherwise permitted on an individual basis by the Medical Science Committee.Back To Top
How many evaluations can I get?
A Settlement Class Member may qualify for up to two (2) Medical Evaluations during the 50-year Medical Monitoring period. A third evaluation may be permitted on an individual basis by the Medical Science Committee. A Screening Questionnaire must be completed to qualify for each Medical Evaluation.Back To Top
Where can I get an evaluation if I qualify for one?
Medical Evaluations are being administered at numerous regional locations across the United States. The program was designed to facilitate access to evaluations across all geographical regions for all participants. If you qualify for an evaluation, the Program Administrator will tell you which location is closest to you.Back To Top
What is the scope of the Medical Evaluation?
The Medical Science Committee determined the scope of the Medical Evaluation, and the Medical Science Committee has described the scope in its Expert Report. You can read the report here.
The Medical Science Committee will update the scope of the Medical Evaluations periodically to ensure that they meet the current standard of care for assessment of and diagnoses related to persistent post-concussion syndrome, and cognitive, mood, behavioral, and motor problems that may be associated with certain mid-to-late-life brain diseases and disorders.Back To Top
What will happen to the results of my Medical Evaluation?
The results will be evaluated by a physician skilled in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussions, persistent post-concussion syndrome, and mid- to late-life cognitive, mood, behavior, or motor disorders associated with concussive and sub-concussive impacts. The physician will provide the results and/or diagnosis to you or your physician, as you direct.
The results of the Medical Evaluations will not be shared with the NCAA or anyone else without your express, written consent.Back To Top
When will the Medical Monitoring Program begin?
The Medical Monitoring Program will begin on February 18, 2020. Settlement Class Members may contact the Program Administrator to request participation on that date. Medical Evaluations may take place at any time during the Medical Monitoring Period after Settlement Class Members have been notified that they qualify.Back To Top
How long will the program last?
The Medical Monitoring Program will start on February 18, 2020 and end on November 18, 2069.Back To Top
If I qualify, do I need to pay for a Medical Evaluation?
No. If you qualify for one, you will not have to pay out of pocket for any of the costs of a Medical Evaluation. You will not be responsible for making a claim on your insurance policy to receive or qualify for the Settlement’s benefits, nor will you be responsible for any co-pays or deductibles associated with any Medical Evaluation received pursuant to the Settlement.Back To Top
How is the program being paid for?
The NCAA and its insurers will pay $70 million into the Medical Monitoring Fund to pay the costs of the Medical Monitoring Program and related expenses.Back To Top
Does the Settlement impact concussion practices at NCAA schools?
The Settlement Agreement calls for the following return-to-play guidelines:
- NCAA student-athletes will undergo pre-season baseline testing for each sport in which they participate prior to participating in practice or competition.
- An NCAA student-athlete who has been diagnosed with a concussion will be prohibited from returning to play or participating in any practice or game on the same day on which he or she sustained such concussion
- Any NCAA student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion by medical personnel must be cleared by a physician before being permitted to return to play in practice or competition.
- Medical personnel with training in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussion are present at all games involving the institution’s NCAA Contact Sports* student-athletes.
- Medical personnel with training in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussion are available at all practices involving the institution’s NCAA Contact Sports* student-athletes.
*Contact Sports are football, lacrosse, wrestling, ice hockey, field hockey, soccer, and basketball.Back To Top
What else is the NCAA required to do?
- Reporting Processes: The NCAA will create a reporting process through which member institutions will report to the NCAA instances of diagnosed concussions in NCAA student-athletes and their resolution, as well as a reporting mechanism through which anyone can report concerns about concussion management issues to the NCAA.
- Education: The NCAA will continue to provide member institutions with educational materials including information for faculty regarding academic accommodations that may be advisable to accommodate NCAA student-athletes who have sustained concussions. Member institutions are also required to provide NCAA-approved concussion education and training to student-athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers before every season for the duration of the Medical Monitoring Program.
- Research: The NCAA has agreed to contribute $5,000,000, over a period not to exceed 10 years, to research the prevention, treatment, and/or effects of concussions.
Are there attorneys who represent the Settlement Class?
For purposes of the Settlement, the Court appointed Steve W. Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Joseph Siprut of Siprut P.C. as Settlement Class Counsel. Settlement Class Counsel can be contacted at the following addresses:
Steve W. Berman, Esq.
HAGENS BERMAN SOBOL SHAPIRO LLP
1301 Second Avenue, Suite 2000
Seattle, Washington 98101
Joseph J. Siprut, Esq.Back To Top
17 North State Street, Suite 1600
Chicago, Illinois 60602