For the second time in less than two weeks, a starting NCAA football quarterback has announced he’s stepping away from the game citing concerns over multiple concussions.
University of Texas quarterback David Ash, who suffered a concussion during the second week of the 2013 season, and two weeks later left a game with what was only described as a head injury, announced his decision Wednesday after suffering lingering symptoms over the last year.
The fourth-year quarterback returned to the field this season leading the Longhorns to a victory over North Texas, but experienced headaches and dizziness which kept him from playing in the team’s next two games.
Longhorns coach Charlie Strong said on Wednesday that he told Ash “there was no way we were going to let you back on that field.”
“His heath is our major concern,” Strong said.
Ash’s decision follows that of University of Connecticut quarterback Casey Cochran, a redshirt sophomore who was injured in the first game of the season after winning the starting job.
While UConn officials declined to say Monday whether the injury sustained Aug. 29 was a concussion, Cochran said his decision was made after he consulted with school medical staff and family members.
“It’s a sad thing, but his health is important,” Jack Cochran told the CTPost. “He’s had concussions in the past, but it’s gotten to the point where he can’t get any more,” he said, adding, “he’s had a few at UConn.”
The players’ announcements and retirement from the game signal a possible shift in mentality as more concussion data and research becomes available to players and medical staff.
The dangers of an athlete returning to the field before the brain recovers from a concussion are not just short-term concerns. Injuring the brain over and over limits its ability to recover and heal.
Recently, the NFL released data estimating that nearly three in 10 former players will develop debilitating brain conditions, and that they will be stricken earlier in life and at least twice as often as the general population.
At least 60 former players have been diagnosed after their deaths with the brain decay known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can only be diagnosed after death.
In July, the NCAA reached a preliminary settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by former players over concussions. The settlement includes creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer, and other contact sports.
College sports’ governing body also agreed to implement a single return to play policy spelling out how all teams must treat players who received head blows.
However, reception of the proposal has been mixed, with some saying it signals a willingness to change concussion and injury mentality but does not go far enough to protect athletes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.