Deadspin Takes on Scholarships and Concussions

Emma Carmichael of 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.

One thought on “Deadspin Takes on Scholarships and Concussions

  1. SLB-ATC March 1, 2011 / 11:35

    1st of all, it is unethical and immoral for a school to cut a student-athlete from his/her scholarship due to an injury suffered as a result of their participation in athletic competition for the college/university. Unethical andimmoral – yes; illegal – no!

    Teams and athletic departments used to have an out on these situations. If a player suffered an injury that was a career ending injury, then the student-athlete could be declared “medically ineligible”, thus maintaining their scholarship, completing their degree and the athletic team is not penalized for that scholarship, (i.e., it does not count against their allotment of scholarships)

    Where I think there needs to be some discussion and investigation is looking at the academic grades and performance of those individuals who suffer a concussion and determine with their head injury has had a detrimental effect on their classroom performance. If it has, then there should be allowances toward the team’s academic performance and they not be penalized for these negative consequences of concussed student-athletes.

    I do not proposed to have the answer or expertise. I only offer that perhaps it is time that we start to examine this component of the injury and its effect on the student-athlete’s academic performance. Afterall, several thousand “student-athletes will be going pro someday is something other than their sport.”

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