Congress wants answers about how the NCAA handles concussions.
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) wrote NCAA president Mark Emmert on Tuesday after learning about the August 2011 death of Frostburg State football player Derek Sheely from brain injury.
“Something is clearly wrong when a player like Mr. Sheely is allowed to return to the playing field despite suffering a head injury,” Sanchez said in a statement. “It is time for the NCAA to review its concussion policy and take stronger measures to protect the safety of its students.”
Last week, The Washington Times detailed the circumstances that led to Sheely’s collapse during practice at the western Maryland school It left former teammates believing the death could have been avoided. The NCAA never investigated what occurred.
Sheely’s family is suing the NCAA, two Frostburg State football coaches, an athletic trainer at the school and helmet manufacturer Schutt Sports.
In the letter, Sanchez questions how the NCAA enforces the rule requiring each school to have a concussion policy on file, whether the NCAA has penalized schools for allowing athletes to play after being diagnosed with concussions and what the NCAA is doing to educate athletes about long-term damage from brain injuries.
“I believe we must do more to protect our student athletes,” Sanchez wrote.
Head injuries have long been a key issue for Sanchez. She’s been a vocal critic of the NFL’s efforts in the area, including chairing a hearing in 2007 that grilled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.