Cole Harvey, former offensive lineman/tight end for the Alabama Crimson Tide, has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and SEC, alleging the organizations “failed to adopt or implement adequate concussion management safety protocols or return to play guidelines,” his lawsuit alleges.
The University of Alabama has governmental immunity and cannot be named in such lawsuits. Harvey signed with the team in 2005, but delayed enrollment until spring 2006. He participated in his first spring practice as a tight end but never played during a game. He was not on the roster for spring practice in 2007, the first year Nick Saban took over as head coach.
Harvey’s lawsuit claims that he suffered 10-15 concussions during his time at Alabama and was “quickly returned to the field of play.” As a result, he now suffers from seizures, migraines, extreme light sensitivity and “other debilitating issues,” his lawsuit states.
Repeated head injuries, such as concussions, have been linked to debilitating and degenerative brain diseases such as dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a condition documented in dozens of former NFL football players. The NFL has agreed to a billion-dollar fund to compensate and provide care for retired players who suffered long-term neurological problems as a result of repeated concussions.
Harvey’s lawsuit is part of a wave of actions taken by former college football players alleging the NCAA and other organizations did not to enough to protect athletes from head injuries. Former Auburn linebacker Joseph Miller is among one of 43 former college football players who filed lawsuits filed since May. State schools have immunity from legal action, but private schools can be sued.
Harvey’s lawsuit is believed to be the second concussion-related lawsuit filed by an Alabama football player. Former Alabama running back Ray Hudson sued the NCAA alleging he suffers depression, memory loss and dizziness accompanied by brief headaches, which he blames on repeated head blows while playing for Alabama from 2001 to 2004.