Emma Carmichael of Deadspin.com wrote an article about how schools have, and in the future will, handle the scholarships of players who have to “retire” due to concussions. Emma highlighted the cases of the four players in the past year that have had to call it careers, with the catalyst being Steven Threet of Arizona State.
But concussions can’t be planned around graduations. And at some point soon, thanks in large part to the bad incentives created by the NCAA’s one-year, renewable scholarship, an athletic department somewhere will have to choose between expediency and simple humanity, and an athlete somewhere else will have to choose between his scholarship and his health.
There is no legal obligation for the Universities/Colleges to maintain the financial aid given to the student-athlete. In reality if the institutions were to pull the scholarship the message would be clear; football is more important than your health.
Concussions raise the stakes immeasurably. The new question, then, is if cumulative concussions should be treated any differently than a season-ending knee injury in a university’s annual scholarship review. Dustin Fink, a certified athletic trainer who also runs The Concussion Blog, says he thinks the NCAA should consider “automatically granting schools the extra scholarship if a player has to stop due to concussions.”
“Talk about a message that would be clear,” Fink says in an email. “This may also have a secondary impact of giving the players and schools an ‘out’ in [cases with] multiple concussions.”
Thanks to Emma for bringing this up, as now would be as good a time as ever to address this issue that WILL appear again. We can only hope that the individual who is least fortunate will not HAVE to try to play football and endanger further brain injury just to keep his scholarship.