CHICAGO — The NCAA agreed Tuesday to help athletes with head injuries in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that college sports' governing body touted as a major step forward but that critics say doesn't go nearly far enough.
The deal, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, calls for the NCAA to toughen return-to-play rules for players who receive head blows and create a $70 million fund to pay for thousands of current and former athletes to be tested to determine whether they suffered brain trauma while playing football and other contact sports.
A lead attorney for the plaintiffs who spearheaded nearly a year of talks said the provisions would improve players' safety and leave open the possibility of damage payments later.
"I wouldn't say these changes solve the safety problems, but they do reduce the risks," Chicago attorney Joseph Siprut said. "It (has) changed college sports forever."
Unlike a proposed settlement in a similar lawsuit against the NFL, this deal does not set aside money to pay players who suffered brain trauma. Instead, athletes can sue individually for damages.
Jay Edelson, a plaintiffs' attorney not involved in the negotiations, said the NCAA will be able to settle one-off suits for several thousand each. He estimated that single, class-action damages settlement could have been worth $2 billion to players.
KENTUCKY LEGEND DIES: Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, a multisport star who helped Kentucky win the first two of its eight basketball national titles and is considered the school's greatest all-around athlete, died Sunday in Lexington, Ky. He was 88. Mr. Jones, an All-American, was the last surviving member of the Wildcats' "Fabulous Five" that won the 1948 and '49 national championships under Hall of Fame coach Adolph Rupp. He also played football from 1945-48, including three seasons for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.
RECRUITING: If Nebraska coach Bo Pelini had his way, national signing day would be a thing of the past. And the result would be an improved recruiting process. "You've made a commitment to a young man to come play in your program, why do we have to wait to any certain day?" Pelini said during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. "Why don't we just go ahead and let's sign on the dotted line, let's get it over with and move forward."
BASKETBALL: Tennessee guard Brandon Lopez has a torn right anterior cruciate ligament that will prevent him from playing this season. … UAB granted All-Conference USA point guard Chad Frazier a release from his scholarship.
BASEBALL: Longtime major-league reliever and former Ray Troy Percival was named coach at UC Riverside, where he played for three seasons.