MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) A former soccer player filed a brain injury lawsuit in Mobile, Alabama against the NCAA last week. Before she even enrolled at Samford University, Mary Shelton Wells, 23, had a history of concussions.
She went on to play soccer for two years at Samford. The lawsuit alleges that the NCAA didn’t do enough to educate her and other athletes on the dangers of concussions.
Wells said Thursday that she still suffers from chronic migraines which often are triggered by bright lights and loud noises.
The attorneys at Taylor Martino representing Wells said they’re in contact with dozens of other former college athletes in our area, many of them football players, who are also interested in taking legal action. Some of them suffer from depression, even dementia because of their past concussions.
Wells never thought that at such a young age, she’d be through with the sport she loves. But a brain injury she suffered in May of 2010 while playing at Samford University, ended her soccer career
“I got to Samford and everything was great. Then at the end of my sophomore year we were playing Mississippi State in the spring and I hit head to head with one of the players. It took me a year and a half to recover from that one,” she said.
It was a year and a half of struggling in school because studying was difficult. She even saw a sports concussion specialist in Michigan. Wells was medically disqualified from playing.
But this wasn’t her first concussion.
“I had two concussions in high school, one was sophomore year and it happened during club ball,” said Wells.
Now she’s filed suit against the NCAA.
Her attorney, Brad Kittrell, said the governing body of college sports didn’t educate Wells on the dangers of continuing to play soccer, considering her history of concussions.
“The NCAA has for years known about the risks with concussions. Whether they’re football related or any sport. They’ve conducted, had access to and have funded studies. They’ve been in a position to protect student athletes and to educate them and they haven’t done that,” said Kittrell.
He said Wells wouldn’t have played college soccer had she known the suppressed facts about concussions.
“We didn’t understand that with every concussion you get, it takes less impact to get your next one. I would love for there to be education in place, protocols and what not so that other atheletes entering into college play or even younger don’t have to go through what I went through. If there’s a protocol in the universities then high schools are going to implement that protocol,” said Wells.
In August 2010, the NCAA adopted legislation requiring each member institution to have a concussion management plan in place. But that didn’t exist when Wells played.
The NFL recently settled a class action lawsuit for $765 million, which provided compensation to former NFL players coping with the long-term effects of concussions.
Local 15 contacted the NCAA for comment but never got a response.