FBS conferences and the NCAA have ignored the NCPA request to discuss the CARE Plan. While we see movement on concussion reform in the NFL and Pop Warner football, NCAA football has been asleep at the wheel. Those who run college football seem to be run

January 6, 2013


MIAMI, FL—On the eve of the 2013 BCS National Championship game, Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association (NCPA), an advocacy group comprised of more than 17,000 current and former college athletes, today said NCAA football has “chosen to focus on a playoff payday, but players’ brains are not expendable.”

Huma stated, “We are all excited about the high stakes game between Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish and Alabama’s Crimson Tide—no matter who wins the game, the most valuable players will be on the field wearing a jersey with school pride and a love for the game. But the NCAA and conference commissioners are doing nothing to reduce the risk of serious brain trauma that these and other football players face each time they suit up.  There are ways to minimize health risks associated with concussions.”

The new college football playoff will increase TV revenue by approximately $300 million per year, and the NCPA is calling for a portion of the new revenues to be used to help protect players.

The NCPA Players Council, a steering committee comprised of current and former FBS football players, developed the Concussion Awareness and Reduction Emergency (CARE) Plan to reduce the risk of brain trauma, and provide much needed research and support for former college athletes participating in contact sports.

Rashard Hall, a member of the NCPA’s Players Council who recently played his final football game for Clemson, stated, “Our plan can help protect players’ long-term health.  There should be no higher priority for NCAA football.”

There have been no visible reform efforts since Owen Thomas committed suicide while playing football for Penn in 2010. A postmortem examination revealed that he had CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive brain trauma.  A number of former NFL players who unexpectedly committed suicide were also found to have had CTE.

Owen’s brother Morgan Thomas stated, “It still seems unreal that Owen would take his own life, knowing how much he loved his family, faith, and football.  His actions were so out of character.  The past two years have been difficult overcoming the loss of Owen. This Christmas, as family gathered, we found ourselves reminiscing over past ‘Owen’ Christmas memories. When the results came back that Owen had CTE it was almost a sense of relief and there was some reason for his actions. There is no doubt in my mind that CTE was a contributing factor in his death.”

With the exception of the PAC-12 Conference, all FBS conferences and the NCAA have ignored the NCPA’s request to discuss the CARE Plan.  The NCPA planned to hold a press conference to discuss the CARE Plan at the official BCS media hotel but was told by Marriott event staff in Fort Lauderdale that the BCS coordinators would not allow it.

“While we see movement on concussion reform in the NFL and Pop Warner football, NCAA football has been asleep at the wheel.  Those who run college football seem to be running from this serious issue,” stated Huma.

Morgan Thomas added, “My family and I are in strong support of the NCPA’s CARE Plan.  I pray that Owen’s death not simply be a statistic but proof that brain trauma is a real risk to college athletes.  Owen would want his death to shed light on the issues with brain trauma, he would want to help fellow college athletes and support the CARE Plan put in place by the NCPA.”

NCPA CARE Plan Summary:

1. Reduce contact during practices.

2. Require independent concussion experts to be present during competitions.

3. Freeze the maximum number of regular season games.

4. Long-term monitoring and data collection of former college athletes that have participated in contact sports.

5. Support for former college athletes suffering from degenerative brain conditions associated with participation in college athletics.

6. Warn student-athletes in contact sports about CTE and degenerative brain conditions associated with contact sports as called for by the Sports Legacy Institute.

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Launched by a group of UCLA football players in 2001, the National College Players Association serves as the only independent voice for college athletes across the nation. Since its first press conference on Jan. 18, 2001, the NCPA has worked to achieve a voice for the athlete and an equitable balance power and value between the schools, the sanctioning bodies, and the heart of sport—the athlete.  NCPA does so by advocating for players’ rights, due process, improved player safety, increased graduation rates, additional employment opportunities, and the closure of the so-called “scholarship shortfall.” Over the past decade NCPA has been featured in countless media outlets, including CBS 60 Minutes, ESPN, CNN, ABC News, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. Today the NCPA has over 17,000 members from over 150 Division I campuses nationwide.