An Illinois federal judge has rejected a $75 million settlement to resolve lawsuits brought by ex-NCAA athletes claiming they have suffered long-term damage from concussions, telling parties to resume negotiations because he has concerns about the fairness of the deal.
U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee denied the motion for preliminary approval of the deal, saying a $70 million fund wouldn’t be enough to fully fund the proposed 50-year medical monitoring program to examine former players for neurological ailments.
The deal also would have made major changes to the NCAA’s approach to concussion treatment and prevention, and would have created a $5 million fund for concussion research.
Judge Lee was troubled by the fact that the $70 million amount didn’t include athletes who — despite participating in noncontact sports like baseball, water polo, cross-country and golf — might still be subject to head injuries.
Some class members have objected because the proposed settlement neither covers treatment nor compensates players for their injuries. It allows them to file individual claims against the NCAA or their schools for damages, but forecloses the possibility of pursuing personal injury claims on a classwide basis.
The case is In re: National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation, case number 1:13-cv-09116, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.