Lawsuit After Maryland Football Player's Death Nearing Settlement

A lawsuit filed against the NCAA and football coaches over the death of a Maryland college football player is nearing a settlement, according to state records obtained by the News4 I-Team.

Derek Sheely, 22, died of a head injury in August 2011 after he collapsed during football practice at Frostburg State University. 

The Germantown, Maryland, resident's family filed a high-profile civil lawsuit in Montgomery County court. 

The case captured national attention because of its challenge of the NCAA, the organization that oversees college sports in the United States. It was filed amid an ongoing debate over the risk of concussions in youth, college and professional sports.

Maryland’s Attorney General has formally recommended contributing $50,000 on behalf of the state’s education system toward the settlement, according to the state records obtained by the I-Team under state Freedom of Information Act law.

Attorneys for Sheely’s family declined to comment on the overall size of the potential settlement, which could also include payments from the NCAA and manufacturers of the football helmet used by Sheely.

The Maryland Board of Public Works, which approves legal settlements in the state, is scheduled to make a final decision on the $50,000 contribution at a July 26 meeting.

An official with the Maryland Attorney General’s office confirmed the proposed settlement amount and the July 26 meeting.

The NCAA did not return multiple requests for comment.

Paul Anderson, an attorney for the family of Derek Sheely, told the I-Team discussions in the case are ongoing. A trial was scheduled to begin in June.

“The trial has been postponed to allow the parties to complete the process of settling this matter," he said.

A court order issued by a Montgomery County judge formally postponed the trial June 21, citing the likelihood of a settlement in the case.

“Parties have agreed to a settlement of this case but can not at this time formally conclude the proceedings," the order said.

Sheely died after he took part in "gladiatorial'' high-speed drills that caused players to suffer repeated blows to the head, according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family.

The complaint says Sheely returned to the field despite bleeding from his forehead during practice sessions, and that he was never checked for a concussion or to see if his helmet was properly fitted.

The team's then-coach, an assistant coach and an assistant athletic trainer are among the defendants in the lawsuit. Lawyers for the state attorney general's office, which represents the men, have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, as has helmet-making company Kranos Corporation, another defendant, which says, among other things, that the helmet label warned that it could not prevent all head injuries.

The NCAA, which was also sued, said in a 2013 statement that it disagreed with the lawsuit's allegations.

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