University of Kansas

November 14, 2013

Former KU fullback Chris Powell sues NCAA over head trauma

Former Kansas fullback Chris Powell, a Kansas City resident who graduated from Rockhurst High, has alleged in a lawsuit that the NCAA failed to adequately protect athletes from head trauma. Powell played for KU from 1991-94.

Former Kansas fullback Chris Powell has alleged in a lawsuit that the NCAA failed to adequately protect athletes from head trauma.

Powell, a Kansas City resident who graduated from Rockhurst High, filed the class-action lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri. The suit seeks undetermined damages for Powell and other athletes who suffered head trauma in college and have health problems as a result.

According to the suit, Powell suffered at least four concussions while playing for Kansas from 1990-94, including one that resulted in 48 hours of memory loss. The filing states Powell suffers neurological and cognitive deficits that require medical monitoring and out-of-pocket expenses.

Kansas is not a named defendant in Powell’s suit. Powell was mostly used as a blocker, but rushed for 125 yards in 37 carries during his four-year playing career with the Jayhawks from 1991-94. He also took a redshirt season as a freshman in 1990.

After more than one concussion as a freshman, Powell began wearing a helmet with an added soft outer shell that attached to the helmet with Velcro.

Before his senior season, then-KU coach Glen Mason praised Powell in the football media guide.

“Chris Powell is what college football is all about,” Mason’s quote read. “There is not a better blocking fullback in the conference, and I doubt if there is a better-blocking fullback in the nation. He’s part of the heart and soul of this team.”

Powell was an all-academic Big Eight selection his senior season in 1994, which KU finished 6-5 and ranked eighth in the nation in rushing offense. He was also part of the 1992 KU team that won the Aloha Bowl and finished 8-4. That team was 13th in the country in rushing offense.

The suit defines the class as all former NCAA football players who suffered concussions or concussion-like symptoms who developed health issues after their careers as a result of their head injuries and who did not play in the NFL. The filing alleges that the class could include “hundreds if not thousands of persons who have developed mental or physical problems as a result of the sustaining traumatic brain injuries, concussions or concussion like symptoms while playing in a collegiate football game.”

The NCAA didn’t immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press seeking comment.

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