The family of a former Pittsburg State football player who killed himself is suing the NCAA and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
The class action lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges the NCAA knew about the debilitating long-term dangers of concussions, concussion-related injuries, and sub-concussive injuries that resulted from playing college football, but “recklessly disregarded this information to protect the very profitable business of ‘amateur’ college football.”
Zack Langston, who played at Blue Valley Northwest, was 26 when he took his life on Feb. 24, 2014. He had suffered from behavior and mood swings soon after his football career had ended.
His mother, Nikki, told The Star in February that Zack also had memory loss, depression and paranoia. He was visiting his former girlfriend and mother of their 3-year-old son when he shot himself in the chest.
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Langston’s estate and Danae Young, the mother of his child, are the plaintiffs.
An autopsy revealed no brain damage. But the Langstons connected with Ann McKee of Boston University’s Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, where the brains of several former NFL players had been examined.
Zack Langston’s brain was shipped to the CTE Center and Nikki Langston said it was found to have had the same levels of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a type of chronic brain damage, as Junior Seau, the former NFL star linebacker who also died by suicide with a gunshot wound to his chest.
The case alleges that the NCAA and MIAA have been aware for decades “that severe head impacts can lead to long-term brain injury (and) recklessly ignored these facts and failed to implement reasonable concussion management protocols to protect their student-athletes.
Officials at the MIAA and Pittsburg State have declined to comment.
Langston played outside linebacker at Pittsburg State from 2007-10 and “suffered from over one hundred concussions,” according to the suit, which also alleges the school didn’t give appropriate medical treatment and told Langston to “shake it off” and return to games or practices “if he was even attended to at all.”
The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages “without limitation damages for past, present and future medical expenses, other out of pocket expenses, lost time and interest, lost future earnings and other damages.”
The Associated Press reported last October that the NCAA is facing 43 class-action lawsuits related to the handling of concussions at the Division I level. The lawsuits were filed Chicago-based law firm Edelson PC, which is also one of the law firms representing Langston.
Last year, a federal judge granted preliminary approval to a $75 million settlement of a class-action concussion case against the NCAA with the money used to set up a 50-year, $70 million medical monitoring programing for college athletes and a new $5 million program to research prevention, treatment and effects of concussions.