The long-running lawsuit accusing the NCAA of not doing enough to protect athletes against head injuries has been stayed pending mediation and settlement discussions, according to federal court records.
The move came a month after the release of hundreds of pages of internal NCAA emails and other documents filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago that raised questions about the organization’s concussion policy.
Attorneys involved in the case confirmed the discussions were not ordered by the court.
“The parties on their own initiative are mediating,” Steve Berman, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, wrote in an email.
That’s a significant difference from the concussion litigation brought by over 4,500 retired players against the NFL. In July, an expected ruling on the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case was instead replaced by an order for both parties to undergo mediation. A progress report is due Sept. 3.
In the NCAA case, further court filings regarding class certification are on hold pending the mediation that is expected to begin shortly.
Filed in 2011, the case includes former Eastern Illinois football player Adrian Arrington and three other former college athletes. Last month, the plaintiffs filed a motion to give the case class-action status and potentially include every athlete who played a sport for the 1,281 NCAA-affiliated institutions. The filing included emails from NCAA staffers mocking the concussion prevention efforts of health and safety director David Klossner and a 2010 survey that showed less than 50 percent of responding schools required concussed athletes to see a physician.
The plaintiffs also included a 213-page report they commissioned from Dr. Robert Cantu that included a detailed proposal for changing the NCAA’s overall approach to concussions, from adjusted rules to medical monitoring to assistance funds.
Two attorneys for the NCAA didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
A status hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24.