Bernard Hicks played safety for the University of California football team from 2004 to 2008. According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month and reported by the Los Angeles Times, Hicks is now seeking restitution from the school in regards to a medical malpractice claim. Hicks and his medical malpractice lawyer, Matthew Whibley, are arguing that he sustained multiple concussions in games and practice and the school did not properly educate him in prevention, treatment, and the overall risks of long-term head trauma.
“The university is the players’ caretaker,” Whibley said. “We think it would be fair for them to at least inform the players what they’re getting themselves into.”
The suit indicates that since leaving school Hicks has endured “permanent and debilitating” neurological injuries that have caused depression, suicidal thoughts, dizziness, memory loss, as well as blurred and double vision. The team physician, Cindy Chang, head athletic trainer, Ryan Cobb, and head coach at the time, Jeff Tedford, were named as defendants in the case.
The University of California could not comment directly on Hicks’ case due to legal implications, but the athletics department did release a statement reported by Yahoo! Sports, saying that its care is based on the “best and most up-to-date clinical guidelines” and that “the medical care we provide our student-athletes meets or exceeds the standards in collegiate and national sports medicine.”
The issue of head trauma and specifically concussions has been an ongoing battle in the National Football League (NFL) for the past few years. Many players suffer from serious conditions later in life that have even led to suicide. But the question remains, should the school or organization hold responsibility in making players aware of potential dangers, or is it an inherent risk associated with a violent sport that individuals should know going in?