ShareThis Page
Irwin man sues NCAA, says college football contributed to his Parkinson’s |

Irwin man sues NCAA, says college football contributed to his Parkinson’s

| Monday, October 22, 2018 5:27 p.m.
A magnetic resonance imaging scan of the human brain.

An Irwin man diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association, claiming that playing college football more than 30 years ago contributed to his illness.

Joel Jarosz was an offensive lineman for Slippery Rock University from 1976-78. He sustained repeated blows to the head during practices and in games, he claims in a lawsuit filed in Westmoreland County.

Jarosz claims the NCAA knew for years prior to his playing days that football-related concussions put individuals at risk for serious long-term cognitive health issues.

“The NCAA failed to educate Mr. Jarosz about the long-term, life-altering risks and consequences of head injuries that can result from participation in the game of football, despite its knowledge of those risks,” stated the lawsuit, filed Friday.

In the years after his college football career, Jarosz claims he experienced numbness, twitching, muscle atrophy, fatigue, loss of mobility, slurred speech and other neurological symptoms. In 2012, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of the disease include tremors, slow movement, rigid muscles, loss of automatic movements such as blinking, speech changes and difficulty writing.

Jarosz is represented by Jason Luckasevic, the Pittsburgh lawyer who a decade ago filed the first lawsuits against the National Football League on behalf of former players who claimed repeated concussions sustained on the playing field resulted in irreversible brain damage such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Luckasevic was part of the legal team that this year settled a similar federal lawsuit filed in Texas by the widow of a University of Texas linebacker who played between 1968-71 and died in 2015. The settlement came three days after the start the trial — the first concussion-related case against the NCAA that was expected to be argued before a jury.

Luckasevic has filed other lawsuits against the NCAA, most recently in Allegheny, Washington and Philadelphia counties, all of which are pending.

“We’re not looking to get a sell-out settlement like was was created in the NFL cases. We’re looking for justice against the NCAA,” Luckasevic said Monday.

Luckasevic represents about 500 former players who recently settled concussion-related litigation against the NFL, a deal that is expected to pay out up to about $1 billion in awards.

In 2017, the NCAA settled a concussion-related class-action lawsuit that set aside $75 million to be used to create a concussion-monitoring program for former college athletes.

In the Jarosz lawsuit, Luckasevic contends the NCAA had known since the 1930s about the dangers of football and how it related to brain injuries.

“Years later, in 2010, the NCAA adopted a concussion management policy that delegated the concussion program to its member schools. This public relations maneuver, in the (face) of decades of knowledge coupled with inaction, was too little, too late for plaintiff,” according to the lawsuit.

The NCAA, based in Indianapolis, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jarosz seeks unspecified damages to cover previous and future medical bills and care as well as punitive damages.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.