- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Ottawa day care suspends 2-year-old for ‘outside’ cheese sandwich
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to ‘man up’ in horse carriage fight
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
- New evidence could threaten Army sex assault case
- George Zimmerman signs autographs at Orlando gun show
- GOP lawmaker faces fire for NBA crime tweet
Death of Frostburg State player Derek Sheely due to ‘egregious misconduct,’ lawsuit says
Two years to the day after Frostburg State University football player Derek Sheely sustained a fatal head injury during practice, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday against the NCAA, coach Tom Rogish and several others.
Sheely collapsed following a preseason drill at the Division III school in western Maryland and died six days later on Aug. 28, 2011.
“Utter incompetence, egregious misconduct, false hope and a reckless disregard for player health and safety led to the tragic death of Derek Sheely,” the 63-page complaint obtained by The Washington Times said.
Also named in the lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court are Frostburg running backs coach Jamie Schumacher, assistant athletic trainer Michael Sweitzer Jr. and helmet manufacturer Schutt Sports.
“It is inconceivable to us how, with all the attention on concussions, there is still no unified enforcement to prevent dangerous drills, stop false safety claims or ensure proper medical attention to concussed athletes,” the family said in a statement released to The Times. “We are haunted by the knowledge that Derek’s death was preventable and we feel an obligation to share lessons that could prevent other children from suffering Derek’s fate.”
The complaint lays out a detailed series of events that led to the death it asserts was preventable.
A senior fullback and team captain who majored in history and political science, Sheely hoped to work for the Central Intelligence Agency one day. But four times in a three-day span that August, Sheely started bleeding “profusely” from his forehead after sustaining hits in full-contact exercises similar to Oklahoma drills where the fullback and linebacker collide at full speed. Two players were concussed during the drill earlier in the preseason.
The tempo wasn’t unusual; Frostburg’s first full day of practice in 2011 included four hours of contact.
“Preseason practices at Frostburg served more as a gladiatorial thrill for the coaches than learning sessions for the players, the lawsuit said. “Practice involved virtually unlimited, full-contact, helmet-to-helmet collisions.”
Each time Sheely’s forehead wound reopened, Sweitzer put on a bandage, allowed him to return to practice, the lawsuit claimed, and didn’t evaluate him for concussion or make certain his helmet fit properly.
During the drills, Schumacher allegedly encouraged players to “lead with your head” and use your “hat first” and cursed at them if they didn’t comply.
Earlier that month, a Schutt Sports representative told Sheely that the company’s DNA Pro Plus helmet the fullback wore “can prevent head injuries.” Sheely had been diagnosed with a concussion the previous season.
Injured players, the lawsuit said, including those with concussions were labeled as “gripers” and forced to clean the field following practice.
Sheely resumed the 7-on-7 drill and, after colliding with a defensive back, collapsed on the sideline. Several surgeries to relieve massive brain swelling followed, but he never regained consciousness before dying at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
In December 2011, Sheely’s mother, Kristen, wrote an extended letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert that expressed surprise the organization hadn’t investigated the circumstances around her son’s death. NCAA health and safety director David Klossner sent a four-paragraph response four months later. The letter extended condolences, noted that each school is responsible for the welfare of athletes and that risk can’t be completely removed from athletics. Klossner suggested the mother visit the NCAA’s health and safety web page.
This is the latest in a deluge of litigation targeting the NCAA. Among them is a federal lawsuit seeking class-action status on behalf of four former college athletes claiming the organization doesn’t do enough to protect athletes from head injuries. The case was stayed earlier this month as the parties enter settlement discussions.
Several emails unearthed in that case, however, are cited in the laundry list of allegations against the NCAA in the Sheely lawsuit. They include an April 2008 email to the NCAA from Division III football player Rickey Hamilton.
“There are multiple players on my team who have suffered injuries and have not had the correct treatment for them,” Hamilton wrote. “We are trying to see what we can do about this because this is not fair to the student athletes who put their all into something and can’t even get the proper treatment needed.”
“The Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit said, “have endured and they will continue to endure an unbearable amount of emotional pain each time they walk past Derek’s empty bedroom, touch his clothing or a photograph or paper which relates to Derek, watch a football game, see a commercial produced by the NCAA, see the NCAA’s insignia, see the number ‘40’ [Derek’s jersey number], among multiple other pain-staking moments.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Declassified cables from Berlin Wall tell tale of drama, dare,
- Judge denies settlement motion in NFL concussion lawsuit
- Jay Gruden's long and winding road to Washington
- FENNO: Championship game provides an opportunity to listen to those who play
- FENNO: For Redskins, nonsensical is the new normal
Latest Blog Entries
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- U.S. has lost track of tens of thousands of foreign students who came study to then took jobs
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Prosecutors: Gray had firsthand knowledge of 'shadow campaign'
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again