Expect lawsuits if college football players have complications from coronavirus

“When one takes gambles with human life, and it doesn’t work out okay, there’s an excellent probability that somebody is going to get sued,” said Brad Sohn, a Miami-based attorney who has represented professional athletes in health-related personal injury matters. “ … I think it’s certainly within the realm of possibility, if not probable, that something bad is going to happen [as a result of playing this football season] and somebody’s going to sue when that does happen.”…

In negligence claims, the plaintiffs could sue their school, their conference and the NCAA. The school’s medical staff has the most direct responsibility for the daily care of athletes and the enforcement of safety protocols. Conferences are offering guidance and requiring some uniform protocols while also deciding whether the season will go on. Nearly every school has followed in line with its conference, but universities can opt out on their own. Old Dominion, a member of Conference USA, did so last week.

The NCAA delegates responsibility to schools and conferences, which could protect the association in a lawsuit because it would assert that it doesn’t have a duty of care to the athletes. Sohn said that if an entity such as the NCAA has undertaken other responsibilities in areas related to sports medicine, the organization may still be liable for its lack of action. Schools, however, have a more clear duty of care.