By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A federal judge in Chicago gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to a revised NCAA $75 million settlement that aims to end a large class action over the college athletics association's handling of head injuries suffered by student athletes.
Like a previous agreement, the revised settlement includes $70 million to fund concussion testing and diagnosis for players. It provides $5 million in additional funds for concussion-related research over the next 10 years.
The agreement, which received preliminary approval by U.S. District Judge John Lee, expands a medical monitoring program to include athletes in non-contact sports as well as contact sports like football and hockey. The proposal also expands the number of locations for the medical monitoring programs.
Lee suggested further changes in the agreement, including limiting the scope of the NCAA's protection from class-action lawsuits.
Lee also said additional publicity campaigns would be necessary to ensure that class members remain aware of the availability of the monitoring program, which is to last 50 years.
The danger of concussions and other head injuries has received increased attention in college and professional sports in recent years, with much of the focus on football.
Donald Remy, legal officer for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, said that while the NCAA was pleased the court had provided a "preliminary pathway to provide significant resources for the medical monitoring of student-athletes who may suffer concussion, we are still examining the conditions placed on preliminary approval."
The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 on behalf of former Eastern Illinois football player Adrian Arrington, who said he suffered headaches and seizures because of five documented concussions. The proposed settlement covers other cases.
Lee rejected an earlier agreement in 2014 because it might not cover potential costs, among other issues.
The NCAA settlement is separate from a $1 billion concussion settlement proposed by the National Football League.
More than 460,000 NCAA student athletes compete in 23 sports. The NCAA generates revenue of about $750 million a year, court documents said.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Peter Cooney)