KC attorneys represent family in concussion death lawsuit against NCAA

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Now that the NFL and former players have reached a settlement in their concussion case, the focus shifts to college football. Kansas City attorneys are representing a couple suing the NCAA and others over the death of their son.

Derek Sheely loved football.

“I play football because simply it’s the greatest game invented on the face of the earth,” said Derek in a video on YouTube and Concussion TV.

Derek was a fullback at Frostburg State University in Maryland, an NCAA Division III school. His family contends that in August of 2011, Derek suffered repeated blows in head-to-head, high-speed drills. They said he was bleeding repeatedly from the forehead yet he was never checked for concussion.

“He had sustained so much head trauma in one week that he passed away from the injuries,” said his father, Ken, on the video.

They say it was second impact syndrome — one concussion after another resulting in massive brain swelling and death.

“He was not only allowed, but essentially cajoled into going back in,” said Dirk Vandever of Popham Law Firm.

Vandever is one of the Kansas City attorneys representing the Sheely family in their wrongful death lawsuit that was just filed against members of the Frostburg football staff, the helmet maker and the NCAA.

“You’ve got to create and change the culture of thinking that sticking with your head is what’s required for winning,” said Vandever.

He said the NCAA has had a concussion management plan since 2010, but doesn’t put any teeth into it. He said the family wants the NCAA to adopt the “Derek Sheely Rule.”

“Which means you’re actually going to enforce and insure that nobody goes back in unless you have a medical personnel clear them,” said Vandever.

At Frostburg, a rock that players traditionally touch now has a plaque in Derek’s memory. He’d talked about the rock.

“What it signifies is that we’re giving everything we have whether it’s a practice or a game,” said Derek in the video.

Derek Sheely ultimately gave his life.

An NCAA spokesperson told FOX 4 that it continues to extend sympathies to the family, but it disagrees with the assertions and allegations. A Frostburg State spokesperson said the university is not ready to comment.

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