NCAA, state reach settlement in case of Frostburg football player who died after head injury

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the state of Maryland have reached settlements with the family of a Frostburg State University football player who died from concussion-related injuries in a case that could have nationwide implications for college sports.

The Board of Public Works approved the state’s part of the deal Wednesday. The three-member panel voted in favor of the proposed $50,000 payout to the family of Derek Sheely, who died in 2011 after he collapsed on the practice field from a traumatic brain injury.

The Maryland attorney general’s office became involved because the family filed a $1.6 million lawsuit that named three state employees — two coaches and an assistant trainer at Frostburg — among the defendants.

While the state financial settlement is relatively small, the potential reach of the case is significant.

The lead defendant is the NCAA, the governing body for college athletics in the United States. In recent years, the NCAA has come under fire for its reluctance to impose rules on colleges and universities for recognizing and preventing potentially lethal concussion-related injuries.

Concussions, once dismissed as “dings” to the head, are now widely recognized as having potentially catastrophic consequences. The NCAA, athletic conferences and individual schools are facing dozens of lawsuits over the alleged effects of concussions, mostly from former players who say they are suffering the after-effects of brain injuries.

The Sheely lawsuit stands out because the 22-year-old fullback died.

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