Visitor Question

Can I sue the NCAA and my college football program for my injuries?

Submitted By: Joseph (California)

I was a division 1 football player in college were I was chasing the dream of a NFL contract and future earnings. That dream wasn’t realized and I’m currently a few years out of college and living with soft tissue injuries. The NCAA prohibits student athletes from being paid for the 5 years of football because they claim amateurism, but the universities and the NCAA make millions.

NCAA rules (and because players cost so little) allows coaches to take unnecessary risks with players because they are easily replaced – unlike in the NFL were an injured player can cost millions due to contracts, so unnecessary drills and contact is avoided as much as possible.

I sustained life long injuries from playing in college. I have scar tissue and intense pain in my neck, lower back and hip from hitting drills and the like. So not only was I not paid once I was done playing, but now all my continued medical costs, including any future repercussions of my injuries, are all up to me to pay. I can not afford medical coverage and my injuries limit my quality of life and the types of careers I’m able to pursue.

I don’t understand why the NCAA who makes hundreds of millions a year, and my college that makes millions off football, doesn’t at least have a medical plan or assistance for their prior players. The fact is the college football system uses players up for all the money they can make and throws them away with zero compensation. Everyone is being paid millions but the ones who get hurt and don’t make it to the NFL get nothing.

It’s not right that I continue to live in pain while so many profited off my work, and they couldn’t even at least give me some medical coverage so I could manage my pain. I would like to know if I can sue my old college and the NCAA for my pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and future medical costs I will incur trying to treat the symptoms? Thank you for any perspective you can give on this issue.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Joseph,

In a word….”No”.

The State of California has a one (1) year Statute of Limitation, or “time limit” by which a person must either settle their personal injury case or file a lawsuit.

Inasmuch as you mentioned you are already a “few years” out of college the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit against the school will be all but impossible.

The next problem you would have is proving your current pain and discomfort are directly and exclusively related to your old football injuries. After a few years that will be difficult to prove unless you have a continuing medical course of treatment evidenced by medical records commencing from the time you sustained those injuries in college.

There is no doubt the abandoning of injured college and university athletes is terribly prevalent in this country. It occurs often and is systemic throughout the college and university system.

Although it is probably impossible to sue the college for your future lost earnings, it may be possible to go back to the school and ask them to offer their medical coverage to help defray the costs of your continuing medical treatment. If you are able to present the aforementioned medical evidence you may have a remote chance of convincing them.

Otherwise consider yourself one of thousands of young men each year who are excellent athletes, but by cause of fate never quite make it to the pros.

Learn more here: Can You File a Sports Injury Claim or Lawsuit?

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


5 thoughts on “Can I sue the NCAA and my college football program for my injuries?

  1. Michele says:

    My son played five years at a D1 college in Oklahoma. He didn’t get a lot of playing time but he definitely had to go through all of the excruciating practices and workouts. About a year ago he was complaining to me that the trainer was hurting his back and also hurting several other players backs.

    Two months later he calls to tell me he can no longer sleep on his bed that he has to sleep on the floor, and he is hurting so bad he can’t breathe. Like so many other athletes he goes to the coach and the trainer and they tell him to take some ibuprofen. I finally had to step in and say no, he needs an MRI, there’s something wrong.

    He had two herniated discs in his back and the doctor told him this was from working out weightlifting, and if he was going back to play any kind of football he would not do surgery on him. This was devastating, not that he wasn’t going back to play because he was graduating, but the fact that he was leaving college and can’t move on with his life.

    He had to have a surgery that was supposed to take 45 minutes and took over two hours because of the severity of his back. He’s now three months out of College and six weeks out of surgery. He can’t get a job and he’s living at home. I am financially supporting him and I think the college is responsible.

    This was not caused by a blow to the back during a football game, this was a negligent trainer. Three other players have had to have the same back surgery. The trainer has since been fired, so they knew there was a problem. They would have never helped my son if I would not have called up and insisted somebody do something. Now he has debt and no job and he is living with his mother.

  2. Justin- says:

    I have had a great opportunity to go to a Division 1 school and accepted a full ride football scholarship. It has always been a goal to play division 1 football and have my academics taken care of.

    I was red-shirted my freshman year and did not really see the field my sophomore. My 3rd year I was playing consistently on defense and special teams. Throughout my 3rd year I have had a couple of concussions and was having some neck pain.

    I was able to finish my 3rd year without anything too serious or to raise concern. Going into my 4th year I made it through camp healthy without any injuries.

    It was about halfway through the season when I developed serious migraines and major neck pain anytime i made contact with my head.

    I reported to my trainers and explained the type of head and neck pains I was having. They stated it was nothing to worry about and not concussion related. So that being said I continued to play for a few more weeks until the pain was unbearable.

    I talked to my coaches and trainers and explained to them I think there was something wrong but they again insisted nothing serious was going on. That being said, again I went back to playing for a few more weeks as the pain was getting worse.

    Getting closer to the end of the season I told the trainers and coaches I need time off to figure out where this pain was coming from. I did not play the last 3 games of our season.

    The migraines and neck pain continued through the end of the season and a few months after I had told the coaches and training staff I was quitting football due to the injuries I received and could not play the following year.

    They understood and granted my scholarship my senior year and I was able to graduate. However throughout my senior year I was visiting doctor after doctor and spending great amounts of money to try and figure out what was wrong.

    It was until a few weeks ago they found a calcium deposit in my neck due to a deep bone bruise.(basically an extra bone formed in my neck irritating everything from my neck and up.)

    Through my senior year which I graduated last DEC 2014 I have spent thousands of dollars on all kinds of different doctors which came out of my own pocket.

    These injuries have limited my working ability and denied me many opportunities to advance in my career in any way. I am from Michigan and played college ball in Ohio.

    I am curious to know if I have anything to work with here. It definitely feels like I received the short end of the stick.

  3. Anonymous says:


    I played football at a Division One school in California until 2012. I was a starter and contributing member for a majority of my stay. During my time there I had 3 surgeries, one of which came my senior year and caused me to turn down a workout with a couple NFL teams.

    As bad as those were, they didn’t even come close to my most serious football related injury. My Sophomore year I was diagnosed with moderate to severe Disc Degeneration Disease. I played through the pain with the “greater good” of both team and school in mind, as any fellow college football player would understand.

    I did the usual Epidurals, Toradol and Lidocaine injections that were at my disposal. All with the lasting advice from a coach in mind, “In 3 years, when your body has a chance to rest, all your aches will go away”.

    So I graduated and the pain kept up. During the next year I had 2 Epidurals, paid for in full by my Alma Mater. When those didn’t last, I did what I knew and asked for another injection, but this time I was told my 1 year statute of limitations had run out and I was on my own.

    I could no longer go to the best Dr. in SoCal as he did not accept my family insurance. So as a 24 year old kid I started doing research and asking my family and friends for referrals. I finally saw a pretty reputable Dr. and he said there were good odds I would be pain free in a year if I Fused my L5-S1 and replaced my L4-L5.

    The surgery was a year ago yesterday, and I am in bed with a pain patch on as I write this. On Monday I have a second opinion to see if a complication with the disc is causing the pain.

    Needless to say, I am completely out of pocket and the NCAA nor my Alma Mater have helped lift a finger. I am not sure what my life will be like now, but I know it won’t be the same and it is directly related to my treatment as a Student Athlete.

    If you Joseph, or anyone else reading this want to get together and make a difference please email me at

    My thoughts are with you today and the many others out there who share our struggle.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My son played D1 and has shoulder and back injuries (and is coming up on one year time limit that was mentioned above). He has not had surgery yet but it was recommended.

    We don’t know if he is covered to get the surgery. He was placed in games against much better teams to get millions for the team (TV pays teams millions for preseason mismatched games).

    His career is over and he will have issues for life.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Joseph. I just came across your post. I’m a journalist and am working on an article about college-athletes in your exact same situation.

    If you seen this comment I would love to talk with you and hear more about your story.

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