Md. Family Sues Frostburg University’s Coaches After Son’s Death

GERMANTOWN, Md. (WJZ) — A Frostburg University football player died during the 2011 preseason. Now his family is blaming what they call the “utter incompetence” of the coaching staff. They have filed a lawsuit against the coaches, the NCAA and the helmet manufacturer.

Meghan McCorkell has more on what’s in that suit.

Derek Sheely’s family says their son was participating in a dangerous drill when he collapsed on the sidelines and never regained consciousness.

“It’s the greatest game invented on the face of the earth,” Derek Sheely said in a student video.

It was on the football field where the 22-year-old collapsed. According to a lawsuit, Sheely was bleeding from the head and told his coach he didn’t feel right. Witnesses say the coach told him, “Stop your bitching and moaning and quit acting like a [expletive] and get back out there.” Sheely fell unconscious moments later and never woke up.

His father spoke out in a student video.

“I took him up and dropped him off for the camp and one week later, he had sustained so much head trauma in one week that he passed away from those injuries,” Ken Sheely said.

According to the suit, “Practice involved virtually unlimited, full contact, helmet-to-helmet collisions.”

It’s cases like Sheely’s that led to the Maryland State School Board adopting new regulations about concussions that includes continuous training for coaches, academic help after an injury and reducing the exposure to head trauma.

Dr. Andrew Tucker, team physician for the Ravens, says the culture surrounding concussions is changing.

“We have kids and older athletes, professional athletes, come to us with their own symptoms and I don’t think that would have happened 10 to 15 years ago,” Tucker said.

Derek Sheely’s family has started a foundation in his name to help raise awareness about the danger of concussions.

The Maryland State Department of Education has recommended limiting football hitting drills to two practices per week.

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