The Repercussions of Turning a Blind Eye 

The Los Angeles Superior Court could potentially provide the first verdict involving CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy in NCAA football players. A wrongful death trial opened last week alleging the National Collegiate Athletic Association turning a blind eye to chronic traumatic encephalopathy – the progressive brain injury linked to football related concussions. Matthew Gee played for the University of Southern California for four year and went on to play at the professional level for the Raiders. [1] Unfortunately, he was cut by the Raiders in training camp as a rookie and left the game. Matthew Gee married his college sweetheart Alana and had three kids while running an insurance company for 20 years. [2] In 2013 his temperament drastically changed, he became angry, confused, and depressed and turned to alcohol. The original cause of death listed the toxic effects of drugs, alcohol, and other health issues including obesity. [3] However, after his death Alana Gee donated his brain to Boston University’s CTE center which diagnosed him with CTE. While the NCAA stands by the original cause of death, Alana believed otherwise. [4] The trial was brought by the widow Alana Gee of former University of Southern California linebacker – Matthew Gee who passed away in 2018. Matthew Gee played football for USC between 1988-1992 and died in 2018. [5] Alana Gee is suing the NCAA for negligence and wrongful death. Gee is suing the NCAA for negligence and wrongful death claiming that Matthew Gee’s death resulted from head injuries that he suffered at the University of Southern California that caused CTE. [6]  Further, Alana Gee is alleging that the NCAA failed to protect him. “We believe that the NCAA has, for decades, hidden the CTE-related risks of college football from student-athletes like Matt Gee,” Todd Logan, a partner at Edelson PC and member of the legal team, told Front Office Sports in early October. “This trial will begin to shed a light on the NCAA’s wrongful conduct.” [7] This is only the second wrongful death lawsuit brought against the NCAA by a collegiate football player to go to trial and could potentially be the first to reach a jury. [8] The NCAA’s attorney counters the claims by concluding that “evidence will show CTE was not discovered in a football player until 2005. But somehow the NCAA was supposed to be warning people about a disease that hadn’t been identified yet.” Hopefully, this case will be the first of many to shed light to the ongoing issues of head injuries in football. [9] Christopher Kolber, another member of the UB Sports Law Forum, touched more upon prior instances through the court system involving CTE. Further he emphasized more of the NCAA’s side to their involvement or lack thereof in this. [10] 

            This is not the first and will not be the last series of cases we will see through the court system. In 1989, USC had a depth chart of a dozen linebackers and five of them passed before the age of 50. [10] Alcoholism, obesity, depression, drugs, were among the killers to the talented players. Scott Ross at the peak of his depression tried to hang himself and the attic and screams, “It’s all your fault ! You did this to me! Why did you let me play football?” [11] So as we sit here and think, what is the solution? Is it to not play football? Is it to install more safety protocols? How do we stop this? 

[1] https://theathletic.com/3669382/2022/10/11/ncaa-cte-concussion-lawsuit-usc/

[2] https://fortune.com/2022/10/21/ncaa-wrongful-death-case-matthew-gee-usc-1990-rose-bowl-cte/

[3] Id

[4] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/matthew-gee-widow-ncaa-trial-concussion-case-former-ucs-football-player/

[5] Id

[6] Id

[7] https://frontofficesports.com/trial-proceedings-gee-lawsuit/

[8] id

[9] https://www.axios.com/2022/10/24/ncaa-cte-trial-matt-gee

[10] https://ublawsportsforum.com/2022/10/27/the-ncaa-goes-to-court-over-cte/

[11] https://www.si.com/college/2020/10/07/usc-and-its-dying-linebackers

[12] Id

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University at Buffalo School of Law Class of 2023
Former college softball player, now focusing on the start of my legal career with the hope that I can continue combining my love for sports with my love for the law.
Go Bills

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