BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – As the NCAA has proposed a deal aimed at making college athletics safer, it agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit by offering $70 million to test current and former college athletes for brain injuries. It will also mandate when athletes can return to play.
They are not convinced it does enough to solve the safety problems or help athletes who suffer blows to the head.
The hits keep coming in college sports. The NCAA figures from 2004 to 2009 alone show more than 29,000 college athletes suffered concussions with 16,000 of them in football.
“I didn’t take them seriously. I think as a football culture we didn’t take concussions seriously,” former University of Colorado linebacker and NFL Pro Bowler Chad Brown said.
Brown has suffered more than his share of head injuries.
“At this point in my life I feel good. I’ve gone and done some testing on my own, done some very advanced brain imaging, and there is some damage,” Brown said.
Brown likes the idea of $70 million to test current and former college athletes for brain injuries, but thinks it falls short.
“How do we get money to pay for treatment or pay for our future medical expenses?” he said.
University of Denver brain injury expert Dr. Kim Gorgens is happy the proposal includes mandating a common policy about when a player with a concussion can get back in the game. But she’s concerned players will try to hide head blows.
“It drives what is a really dangerous problem underground among players,” Gorgens said.
Brown worries medical opinions can be swayed.
“You need to go tell say Nick Sabin in Alabama that your most important player can’t finish the game in the biggest game of the year. That’s a tough thing for a doctor to do,” he said.
The final word on the proposed settlement will come from a federal judge in Chicago.
Brown has a son who plays football in high school and likes the tougher rules on concussions, but he doesn’t want it to be overblown. He believes the lessons in sports of hard work, discipline and sacrifice for the team are important.