NCAA faces lawsuit over concussions in football – Deseret News

  • October 11, 2022

Southern California offensive linemen battle against Washington State during a college football game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Los Angeles.
Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

Matthew Gee had already lost four of his former University of Southern California teammates by the time his own life started to go off the rails.
Before their deaths, they’d struggled with substance abuse, erratic behavior and memory loss. Around 2013, he began dealing with those symptoms, too.
Gee, who played linebacker for USC from 1988-1992, died in his sleep on Dec. 31, 2018, with alcohol in his system. His wife, Alana, had his brain tested by concussion experts at Boston University. “He was posthumously diagnosed with CTE,” Front Office Sports reported.
Alana Gee used the results to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the NCAA. Hearings in the case, which begin this week, are expected to put pressure on college football administrators to update their concussion protocols, just as Tua Tagovailoa’s injury did in the NFL.
“The trial will span multiple weeks and will feature a star-studded witness list — from NCAA officials like President Mark Emmert and General Counsel Scott Bearby to concussion-era celebrities like Dr. Bennet Omalu (the doctor whom the film ‘Concussion’ was based on.) The trial will also be livestreamed,” Front Office Sports reported.
During the hearings, attorneys for the Gee family will attempt to prove that football-related head trauma led to Matthew Gee’s premature death at 49 and that NCAA officials knowingly withheld health and safety information that could have saved his life.
As Front Office Sports reported, it won’t be an easy case to make, in part because concussion-related policies are left up to individual teams.
“(The jury) must agree that the medical problems Gee suffered resulted from the NCAA’s alleged negligence — rather than the actions of USC or the then Pac-10,” the article said.
During the era in which Matthew Gee played, head injuries were not monitored nearly as closely by schools or higher-up officials as they are today. Few were aware of how repeated head trauma could affect a former player’s quality of life as he aged, as Sports Illustrated reported in 2020.
“In 1989, tacklers are taught to lead with their heads. Drug tests are easy to beat. Pain is for the weak. Complaints are for the weaker. This is how the game is played,” argued the Sports Illustrated story on Matthew Gee and his 11 fellow linebackers on the 1989 team, including Junior Seau.
That article, like the current lawsuit, draws a link between those on-field tactics and off-field drama. It noted that Gee was the fifth of the 12 linebackers to die after protracted mental health-related challenges.

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