The NCAA on Friday settled a lawsuit brought by the widow of a former Texas player alleging the organization was at fault for not properly informing the player of the risks repeated blows to the head brought to his overall health.
The first-of-its-kind suit was settled after three days of a trail in a Dallas courtroom. Terms were not disclosed.
“The NCAA has agreed to settle the claims brought by Mrs. Ploetz,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement. “The settlement gives all parties the opportunity to resolve the case outside of a lengthy trial. The NCAA does not admit liability as part of the settlement. We will continue to defend the Association vigorously in all jurisdictions where similar unwarranted individual cases are pursued. It is our hope that other plaintiff’s lawyers recognize that this is one settlement in one case.”
The suit was brought by Debra Hardin-Ploetz, the widow of Greg Ploetz, who played for Darrell Royal‘s Texas Longhorns from 1968-71, helping UT win a school record 30 straight games, win four straight Southwest Conference championships and claim national championships in 1969 and ’70. He was named the SWC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1971 but did not play professionally, instead pursuing a career as a teacher after his 1972 graduation.
Ploetz passed away in 2015 and donated his brain to Boston University, who ruled he suffered from CTE, which can only be diagnosed posthumously.
The suit stated Ploetz suffered from “memory loss, difficulty communication and confusion,” according to the Associated Press. Ploetz’s widow sued for negligence and wrongful death, arguing that repeated head trauma and lifelong cognitive difficulties were not communicated as part of the assumed risks of playing college football.
A little more detail has been added to an off-field development in Lubbock that resulted in a personnel movement via the boot.
Thursday evening, Kliff Kingsbury announced that wide receiver Quan Shorts had been dismissed from his football team for unspecified reasons. It was subsequently reported that the dismissal stemmed from an arrest, although no details of what led to the legal issue were available.
Thanks to EverythingLubbock.com, we now know a little more about Shorts’ issues:
At approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, Lubbock Police officers were at an apartment complex in the 2200 block of Mac Davis Lane as part of an ongoing investigation. During the investigation, 21-year-old Furquan Shorts was arrested and booked into the Lubbock County Detention Center. He is currently charged with possession of marijuana.
While it’s “just weed,” this was Shorts’ second arrest this offseason, which very likely played a significant role in Kingsbury pulling the trigger on a dismissal.
In late March, Shorts was one of four Red Raider football players arrested following an incident outside of a Lubbock nightclub. While Shorts was initially charged with disorderly conduct, and he and the other three were initially suspended, no formal charges were ever filed against any of the players involved in the alleged incident.
The twin incidents, however — and whatever else may have gone on behind the scenes that the public knows nothing of — were enough to merit a dismissal in the eyes of the head coach.
Shorts started three games this past season, with his nine receptions producing 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Shorts caught five passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Texas Tech’s task of replacing four of their top five receivers from last season appears as though it will be an even bigger uphill batter than first thought.
Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury announced on Thursday evening that wide receiver Quan Shorts has been dismissed from the team and that the school would not be commenting further on the matter. It turns out there’s a good reason for that even if it still is a bit vague at the moment.
Per Lubbock Avalanche-Journal beat writer Don Williams, Shorts was booked into the county jail this afternoon so it took less than two hours for the program to formally cut ties.
The redshirt junior from Humble, Texas made three starts last year and has played in 18 games the past two seasons. He had just nine catches in 2017 but two of them went for touchdowns and he was expected to be a potential starter given how wide open the depth chart was looking for nearly every skill position spot on offense.
While the Red Raiders’ depth at receiver is no doubt hampered by this news, the team did add former Oregon State QB/WR Seth Collins in April and he could be in for an increased workload given this bit of news out Lubbock. Either way, a very large season looms for Kingsbury at his alma mater in 2018 and the exodus out of town (by a variety of players for a variety of reasons) isn’t a super encouraging sign as we hit mid-June.
Baylor’s massive sexual assault scandal that has rocked the school for the last few years may finally have a light at the end of the tunnel — at least as far as the NCAA is concerned.
A report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that the school expects the NCAA enforcement staff’s investigation into the program to be complete by the time the upcoming fall semester starts and that an eventual resolution in the entire matter could be made as early as the spring of 2019. Perhaps even more encouraging (if you want to use that word, given the subject) is that in light of recent rulings such as in the case against North Carolina, it seems school officials are fairly confident that they will not be receiving an earth-shattering penalty in the case.
“If people are expecting some sort of ‘Death Penalty,’ I think they are going to be disappointed,” a source told the paper, referring to SMU’s infamous program-shuttering result back in the late 1980’s.
Of course, North Carolina’s academic fraud case is significantly different from what has gone on in Waco.
Baylor is still dealing with numerous lawsuits resulting from the fallout of the scandal, including one alleging that a total of 31 Bears football players had committed 52 acts of rape over just four years. Then-head coach Art Briles was fired back in 2016 after reports came to light about what was allegedly going on at the program and the university even paid him over $15 million to just go away. School president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw also lost their jobs once several findings were released from an investigation by the law firm Pepper Hamilton.
NCAA cases are notoriously difficult to read and predict however so despite the cautious optimism that things can move somewhat quickly over the coming months, there can always be unforeseen twists and turns. Until the day finally comes that there is some closure between the organization and Baylor however, head coach Matt Rhule and those at the school will have to continue to deal with this still-unfolding scandal for some time to come.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has flirted with many jobs over the years, interviewing with numerous big name schools as he’s pondered a move away from his alma mater. While life is good for the former Cowboys quarterback running a successful program in Stillwater, there’s still been plenty of grumblings that he could eventually be headed out of town.
The reason? His typically rocky relationship with AD Mike Holder and, at times, mega booster Boone Pickens. Well, thanks to the former we can resurface a bunch of those stories again.
Holder did an interview on the Pistols Firing podcast this week and let’s just say he did not really hold back when it came to taking a shot at how well (or not) Gundy recruits.
“You’ve got to give credit to Mike Gundy,” Holder said. “He’s really matured into a difference-maker as a coach. I would approach recruiting a little differently than he does. I’d want to finish higher in those recruiting rankings than we consistently do. I think that ultimately puts a ceiling on what you’re able to achieve … I think sometimes we settle when we don’t have to.”
That’s not typically what you hear from an AD about the most successful head coach in school history — one who has a 114–53 record, four major bowl game appearances and is coming off 10 win seasons in four of the past five years.
Now could the Cowboys recruit a little better? Sure, every program bar Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State could probably say that. According to 247Sports, Oklahoma State hasn’t had a top 25 recruiting class since 2011 but still have found plenty of good players that have kept them near the top of the Big 12 in recent years and just produced a third-round quarterback and yet another highly regarded receiver who won the Biletnikoff Award.
There hasn’t been any sort of response from the mulleted-head coach yet but you can bet this little storyline will probably get brought up again if you hear Gundy’s name mentioned for another job come December or January.
UPDATE: Gundy responded and, well, yeah.