A Dangerous Precedent

By Yolande Lezine, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 1, 2009

NCAA HOUSTON (BASN) — The Rice University Athletic Department claims that it has tested its athletes for the sickle cell disease for the past three years. They have now decided to put forth an initiative that the NCAA make such testing mandatory for all student athletes.

This action comes as one of the requests made in the settlement of the wrongful death lawsuit filed last September by the family of Rice football player Dale Lloyd II. Rice and the NCAA have both settled with the Lloyd family.

This lawsuit has brought out this question- “Are college athletes being used as test subjects?” Sickle Cell Disease or Sickle Cell Traits are found to be predominately in blacks. It is usually detected when a black child is born.

If diagnosed with the disease a series of monthly blood tranfusions will take place. If you have a trait, it just means that you will have to watch certain things within your blood.

Dale Lloyd II, a freshman defensive back from Lamar High School, collapsed following a conditioning workout on September 24, 2006. He died the next morning at Memorial Hermann Hospital as a result of acute exertional rhabdomyolysis, which is associated with sickle cell trait.

“Nothing brings closure to a loss of a child, but what was important to the Lloyd family was that it gets answers and it ensures it doesn’t happen to another family,” Gene Egdorf, lead counsel for the Lloyd family stated.

“And while there are no guarantees, I think we’re all confident we succeeded in those goals.”

The lawsuit has ended, but the Lloyd family hopes the changes are just beginning. Will these changes really be made? And did the Lloyd family really get what they wanted?

According to Dale Lloyd’s godmother his parents sought answers from everyone that they could possibly ask and no one was willing to tell them what really happened on September 24, 2006.

There were questions about whether or not the Rice Athletic Training staff gave him steriods while going through the conditioning workouts. This came up because it was told that Lloyd’s skin was coming off of his bonesRice University head football coach >Todd Graham wasn’t available to comment too much after the incident.

Also the Lloyd family sought out members of the Rice football team as well as some of their son’s roommates, only to find out that they had been moved into another dorm and were off limits.

So once again I ask the question are college athletes being used as test subjects? All athletes have to take physicals before even stepping onto the field, court, track or designated area.

The NCAA has announced for the first time that it will recommend all of its student-athletes be tested for the sickle cell trait. The NCAA cannot mandate testing unless one of its schools proposes the initiative and the others vote to pass it.

Rice University has agreed as part of its settlement to take the lead to mandate testing by all NCAA schools. In the most recent survey done in 2006, 64 percent of the schools that play Division I football indicated that they were testing. Rice has tested its athletes since Lloyd’s death.

The rest of the settlement with Rice is confidential; however, the NCAA’s settlement was made public. The NCAA will donate $50,000 to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in the name of Dale Lloyd II.

The funds will go toward awareness, education, and screening for sickle cell trait in athletes. The NCAA will also contribute $10,000 to the Dale Lloyd II Scholarship Fund, which is administered by his parents.