By Ava-joye Burnett

FROSTBURG, Md. (WJZ) — Controversy on whether the nation’s top college sports organization should have done more to protect a Maryland student athlete who died during practice. The case is now in a Maryland court.

Ava-joye Burnett has more on what happened to the athlete and why the NCAA says they’re not responsible.

Derek Sheely had his entire life ahead of him but then the unexpected happened. Now his family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his coaches and the NCAA.

Sheely was a Frostburg University football player but in 2011, the 22-year-old died on the practice field. His parents say his brain was swollen and coaches forced him to get back on the field before he had fully healed.

Now they’re suing both the coaches and the NCAA.

“We wanted to do what we could to prevent it from happening to another child and devastating another family,” said mother Kristen Sheely.

The NCAA is now asking Montgomery County’s Circuit Court to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit.

“People in that position have a responsibility to players,” said attorney Cy Smith.

Smith represented former NFL players who suffered from concussions.

“It’s hard to say exactly what the NCAA’s argument is but the basic idea that the league, whether it’s the National Football League or the NCAA or a local high school league has a responsibility to make sure that the schools and their coaches and their trainers and everybody who is involved with the sport takes basic reasonable steps to ensure safety, like if a player is already injured, don’t send them back on the field,” Smith said.

Now, almost five years later, Sheely’s family says they’re fighting for others.

“That’s all we can do now. Perhaps with our pain and pushing forward, we will help other children,” Sheely said.

We contacted the NCAA for comment but the offices were closed for the day. The hearing is scheduled to last until Friday.

Ava-joye Burnett

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