Lawsuits over football head injuries could pose a bigger threat to college athletics than coronavirus: Issues & Answers

This year has served up one challenge after another for major college athletic programs.

If the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t bad enough, there is another one brewing.

Here is an interesting story by Jason Schwartz of Sports Illustrated about attorney Jason Luckasevic. Luckasevic has lined up eight lawsuits in four states against the NCAA by football players contending their participation in college football caused repeated head injuries that have disabled them later in life.

Luckasevic knows the subject. He was the first lawyer to sue the NFL over concussions. He isn’t happy with how that turned out, even though the NFL settled for $1 billion over 65 years.

This time, he has his sights set on college football. This has the potential, Schwartz writes, to “threaten not just the NCAA’s finances, but also its very operational model. Especially at a time when the organization — beset by a revenue-depleting pandemic, congressional scrutiny, and pushes from conferences, schools and athletes for greater power — has never been more vulnerable.”

The potential of a connection between head injuries and the sport has to be a troubling one for the Division I level. If we hadn’t already known, the coronavirus pandemic has made obvious how dependent the major colleges are on football revenue to underwrite their entire athletic programs.

It might be time for major colleges to begin thinking about a funding model not so reliant on one sport, particularly one that could become vulnerable if Luckasevic starts winning cases.

OK, more links:

Why the Ducks probably will lean more on their 4-3 defensive alignment this season.

Five-star freshmen Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe won’t need to bide their time before having an impact on the UO defense. (The Athletic)

Tight end DJ Johnson has been a pleasant surprise for the Ducks. (NBCSN)

New coronavirus cases for a Eugene zip code that includes part of the University of Oregon campus and an area where many students live has more than doubled in the past week.

Starting spots in an upgraded Oregon State secondary are up for grabs.

Transfer Korbin Sorensen looks like a plug-and-play guy for OSU’s offensive line.

The Beavers want their defense to generate more turnovers. (G-T)

Beavers expect their defense to take another step forward in 2020. (G-T)

OSU fans who purchase a cutout for games in Reser Stadium this season, also will cause a tree to be planted.

Former Oregon player Justin Wilcox has Cal ready to contend. (R-G)

Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon’s emphasis: tackling, tackling, more tackling. (Cal Sports Report)

Sorting out the Washington secondary. (The Athletic)

How UW tackle Jaxson Kirkland used a home gym to transform his body. (Seattle Times)

UW offensive line coach Scott Huff is putting the pieces together in an intriguing way. (Husky Maven)

Walk-on Washington H-back Jack Westover earns a scholarship. (Husky Maven)

Washington State’s offensive linemen embrace the challenge of working for their third position coach in as many years. (Seattle Times)

Scott Wolf of All Trojans: If you believe what Clay Helton and Graham Harrell say, everything is great at USC.

USC’s offensive line goes under the microscope in camp. (The Athletic)

Don’t underestimate the impact on USC of the decision by tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker to opt back in. (SportsPac12)

Trojans want to put more emphasis on their tight ends in the passing game. (SCNG)

The UCLA secondary wants to be in your face this season. (Yahoo/Los Angeles Times)

Stanford QB Davis Mills and the Cardinal are willing to do whatever it takes this season. (Daily Star)

Hard work pays off for Stanford receiver Connor Wedington. (Stanford Daily)

Drew Lisk brings a cerebral approach to the battle for Utah’s starting QB job. (Deseret News)

Nick Ford will anchor Utah’s veteran offensive line. (Salt Lake Tribune)

The clock is ticking as Utah looks to fill starting vacancies. (Deseret News)

Arizona State’s Tyler Johnson changes course, returns to boost the defense. (Arizona Republic)

ASU receiver Johnny Wilson has towering potential. (The Athletic)

Veteran assistant Stan Eggen’s energy and enthusiasm echo up and down Arizona’s defense line. (Daily Star)

Colorado coach Karl Dorrell wants his corners to play more aggressively. (Daily Camera)

Dorrell likes what he sees so far. (Daily Camera)

Next challenge for the NCAA: restructuring the Division I level.

SEC docks multiple schools for not adhering coronavirus protocols. (ESPN)

College football’s scattershot approach to mask requirements for fans risks a virus outbreak. (USA Today)

New Mexico suspends practices after eight players and one coach test positive for coronavirus. (Yahoo)

This week’s game between Florida International and Charlotte is postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak at FIU. (ESPN)

Jacksonville State coach John Grass tests positive for coronavirus. (USA Today)

— Ken Goe

[email protected] | @KenGoe

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