Lawsuits over concussions, other issues continue to pile up for NCAA

Mark Emmert
NCAA President Mark Emmert said last year, “If you’re not getting sued, you’re not doing anything.”
(LM Otero / Associated Press)

The addition of Stanford runner Jessica Tonn to the dozens of current and former athletes suing the NCAA over concussions Wednesday is the latest in a stream of litigation targeting the organization.

At last year’s Final Four, NCAA President Mark Emmert quipped, “If you’re not getting sued, you’re not doing anything.” By last fall, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy estimated the organization faced 20 pending lawsuits.

That number seems to grow each day.

Tonn’s lawsuit increased the number of concussion plaintiffs to 74, according to one database. That number has shot up since settlement talks commenced in November between the NCAA and attorneys who filed the first concussion lawsuit in 2011.


Another case, filed last August in Montgomery (Md.) County Circuit Court, targets the NCAA, among others, after Frostburg State football player Derek Sheely collapsed during a practice and later died.

A month later, the parents of a Slippery Rock men’s basketball player who died after a workout claimed in a lawsuit against the NCAA and university their son wasn’t screened for the sickle cell trait that contributed to his passing.

There’s the sprawling federal antitrust litigation revolving around Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller over the use of athletes’ likenesses that is scheduled for trial in June. Court-ordered settlement talks will commence later this month.

Meanwhile, the long-running lawsuit by former Buffalo men’s basketball Coach Tim Cohane, who claims the NCAA forced the university to make him resign in 1999, continues. Same for ex-USC football assistant Todd McNair’s lawsuit filed in 2011 in the aftermath of the Reggie Bush case.


The NCAA is also among those named in a lawsuit by Joe Paterno’s family and estate, upset by penalties levied against the school in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

This week, former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston sued the NCAA and five power conferences, alleging they colluded to cap the value of athletic scholarships.

The games go on. The cases continue too.

Twitter: @nathanfenno

Get our daily Sports Report newsletter