A former University of Central Arkansas football player is one of the named plaintiffs in a class-action head injury lawsuit settled by the NCAA Tuesday.
Derek K. Owens, a former wide receiver from Russellville, was one of multiple plaintiffs in a series of 10 consolidated lawsuits against the NCAA concern various kinds of brain trauma developed from concussions. The NCAA has agreed to create a $70 million fund to diagnose of current and former college athletes in contact sports.
Owens filed his portion of the suit in 2011. Originally a walk-on, he was placed on scholarship and played two seasons as a wide receiver, return specialist and holder of placekicks. Although he played sparingly for the Bears, he sat in the suit that he suffered five concussions since leaving high school in 2008, particularly a brutal hit in 2011 against Tulsa University. He did not return for his senior season because of complications from the concussions.
He emphasized at the time, his suit was against the NCAA, not UCA.
He later said that he could no longer retain what he had just studies and his symptoms became so severe, he dropped out of school in 2011, telling his mother, "I feel like a 22-year-old with Alzheimer’s."
There is no lump-sum damage agreement in the settlement but the lawyers for the plaintiffs have reserved the right to sue for damages on behalf of invidual athletes. The NCAA-funded tests can be used as grounds for further legal action.