LOS ANGELES (AP) — The widow of a former University of Southern California football player suing the NCAA for failing to protect her husband from repetitive head trauma is taking her case to a Los Angeles jury.
Opening statements are scheduled for Friday in what could be a landmark case.
Matt Gee was on the 1990 Rose Bowl-winning squad.
Alana Gee says he took enough serious blows to the head to develop a degenerative brain disease that led to his death at 49 in 2018.
“For years (the NCAA) has kept players like Matthew Gee and the public in the dark about an epidemic that was slowly killing college athletes,” the lawsuit said per the Associated Press. “Long after they played their last game, they are left with a series of neurological conditions that could slowly strangle their brains.”
This marks the second lawsuit ever against the NCAA to go to trial and could be the first of its kind to go to a jury.
A 2018 trial in Texas led to the NCAA swiftly settling with the widow of Greg Ploetz, who played for the Longhorns in the late 1960s.
Matt Gee is one of five linebackers from the 1989 USC team to have died before turning 50.
Along with his college teammate, Junior Seau, who killed himself in 2012, Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center found that both men had CTE.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the center had found CTE in 48 of 53 former college players.
The NCAA says it had nothing to do with Gee's death and his mental decline was from years of hard drinking.