Roscoe Smith of the UNLV Devils sits out of a game against rivals USD due to concussion symptoms. The NCAA's new policies would mandate longer recovery periods for all athletes. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

UNLV forward Roscoe Smith missed two games in 2014 due to a concussion. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Besides establishing a fund that’s probably inadequate — given that the purpose of the $70 million is to underwrite a 50-year medical monitoring program to examine thousands and thousands of former, current and future college athletes – Tuesday’s NCAA settlement with former players in a head-injury lawsuit mandates that NCAA member schools will make some changes in whatever “concussion-management policies” they’d previously developed.

It might almost make you wonder if the NCAA’s real concern has been promoting the games that have made the organization rich and powerful.
Current and former college athletes and their parents may be alarmed to learn that before Tuesday, the NCAA had demonstrated no particular interest in the details of any school’s plan for dealing with athletes who couldn’t remember their last names. The NCAA only required that schools should have a policy. Presumably it could have been that if an athlete who’d been knocked unconscious could remember his or her first name, he or she was good to go.

Under the terms of Tuesday’s agreement, athletes diagnosed with concussions would be prohibited from returning to play on the same day.

That sounds like the sort of common sense that shouldn’t have required a year’s worth of negotiation by lawyers who’ll apparently be paid in the neighborhood of $15 million for their efforts.

Perhaps it sounds that way to me because I had the benefit of that common sense in 1969, during the fall of my senior year in college.

I’d been playing club soccer. I got kicked in the head. I was taken to the college infirmary with the symptoms of a concussion, although by the time I was examined, I was able to recall that Richard Nixon was president.

I was kept overnight at that infirmary. In the morning, the doctor who’d examined me said that for at least several weeks, I should stay out of any situation that might put me at risk for another concussion.

Not for just a day. For several weeks. I asked if riding a motorcycle counted. He said it did.

He said that my brain, which had been bounced around in my skull, needed time to recover.

That this common sense dispensed to a club athlete almost 45 years ago should only now become part of the protocol of the organization allegedly established in part to insure the safety of student athletes seems extraordinary. It might almost make you wonder if the NCAA’s real concern has been promoting the games that have made the organization rich and powerful, rather than protecting the health of the unpaid labor force that has sustained it.

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