'The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes'

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

That's not exactly an NCAA mission statement. But expanding its context -- it's a quote from an NCAA court filing -- doesn't make the institution's role in concussion safety much clearer.

In response to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of former Frostburg State football player Derek Sheely, the NCAA explained it was formed as an organization in order to protect players, but passed responsibility for player safety on to its member schools. The Washington Times acquired a copy of the 30-page filing.

Sheely's family is suing the NCAA, helmet manufacturer Schutt and three Frostburg State staffers over the player's death in August 2011. Sheely died after suffering a head injury during a preseason practice. The full quote:

"The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes, but affirmatively states that under the NCAA Constitution each member institution is responsible for protecting the health of its student-athletes and that for decades it had provided appropriate information and guidance on concussions to its member institutions."

The NCAA isn't saying that player safety is a non-issue as far as the organization is concerned, but it claims that the institution itself cannot be responsible for injuries on an individual basis. It attempts to educate schools on how to properly keep their players safe, but it's up to said schools to actually implement the proper precautions and create a safe environment. This isn't a new development or policy, but it is uniquely stated in the court document and potentially confusing.

In the document, the organization stated it "admits that a founding purpose was to protect student-athletes."

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