Ex-Pitt Players Sue School, NCAA Over Concussions

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The University of Pittsburgh is named in two federal lawsuits from former football players who believe that the university and other organizations didn’t protect them from concussions.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, former Pittsburgh football players Joseph DelSardo and Craig Bokor have each filed lawsuits against the University Pittsburgh, the NCAA, the Big East Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tribune-Review reported that the lawsuits allege “the organizations were aware of the potential health ramifications caused by concussions and repeated blows to the head but never took action to protect players.”

The lawsuits, which were filed by the Hagens Berman law firm Friday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh include claims of negligence, fraudulent concealment, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. They seek class-action status for any Pittsburgh varsity athlete since 1952 who “suffered concussive and subconcussive head injuries” through football.

DelSardo, who played for the Panthers from 2003 through 2006, says he received “banned” head-to-head contact during nearly every full practice and game. The former receiver, who is open about battling addiction since high school, says he was pressured to return to the field and now suffers from anxiety, migraines and memory loss. Bokor, a Pittsburgh defensive lineman from 2005-09, notes similar debilitating injuries.

Their lawsuits allege that “schools like the University of Pittsburgh do not take player health seriously,” and accuse the NCAA of knowing the dangers of concussions for nearly four decades while concealing the impact football has on brain injuries, memory loss, dementia and depression.

The lawsuits allege the NCAA didn’t adopt concussion management protocols until 2010, and the organizations and schools haven’t followed those protocols.

“The NCAA was created to protect the students that participate in various college sports, including football,” the lawsuit reads, according to the Tribune-Review. “Despite its alleged purpose, the NCAA has failed to take reasonable actions to protect players from the chronic risks created by such injuries and fraudulently concealed those risks from players.

“Because the defendants cared more about profits and the outcome of games over the health of its players, plaintiff and the class he seeks to represent are going to suffer neurological injuries for the rest of their lives.”

Related content: Study: Football Practices Pose Greatest Concussion Risk

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