Christopher Powell, a fullback on the Kansas University football team from 1990-94, has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and is seeking an undetermined amount of damages for himself and athletes who suffered head trauma during their college careers.
According to a statement released by the law firm representing Powell, the former Jayhawk’s “primary concern, and the principal purpose for the lawsuit, is to protect him and other student athletes that played football in the NCAA from future harms associated with concussions.”
The lawsuit includes charges of negligence, concealment and unjust enrichment relating to head injuries and research on their effects. In the filing, Powell said he incurred multiple concussions during his time in Lawrence, but KU is not named in the lawsuit.
Powell played for former KU coach Glen Mason, who coached the Jayhawks from 1988-96. Powell’s bio in the 1994 media guide lists him as “one of the best backfield blockers in the Big Eight” and “a tough, physical player who enjoys contact.” A Mason quote praising Powell also is highlighted in the guide.
“Chris Powell is what college football is all about,” Mason’s quote reads. “There is not a better blocking fullback in the conference, and I doubt if there is a better blocking fullback in the nation. He’s part of the heart and soul of this team.”
After red-shirting in 1990, Powell appeared in more than 30 games for KU, with a majority of his playing time coming via special teams. As a ball carrier, he gained 125 yards on 37 carries and scored one touchdown.
Current KU coach Charlie Weis has talked often about the serious nature of head injuries and has backed up his words by holding players out when they experience any kind of symptoms, even after being medically cleared by doctors. The most recent example of Weis’ discretion concerns junior Tony Pierson, who has missed parts of five games this season after suffering a concussion late in a loss to Texas Tech on Oct. 5.
Last week’s loss at Oklahoma State marked Pierson’s return to KU’s lineup and Weis said he suffered no setbacks.
“I know one thing,” Weis said shortly after Pierson suffered the initial injury. “With Tony or anyone else, at least at Kansas, we’re gonna err on the side of caution.”
According to the lawsuit, Powell is seeking a jury trial.