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Sunday, June 28, 2009
Family settles suit with Rice, NCAA

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- The family of a former Rice University football player who died during a workout has settled its lawsuit with the school and the NCAA, which has agreed to recommend that its member universities test all athletes for sickle cell trait.

Dale Lloyd II died a day after he collapsed during a conditioning workout Sept. 24, 2006. The 19-year-old freshman's death was linked to sickle cell trait and created the basis for the lawsuit filed in state district court in Harris County.

At the time of Lloyd's death, Rice did not test its athletes for sickle cell trait.

Much of the settlement is confidential, Houston television station KRIV reported Sunday.

"Many of our schools already are testing and while we can't mandate that test we can recommend that," NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson told the station. "That decision is important. It's consistent with our educational mission. An overall priority of ours is to ensure the health and well-being of our student-athletes."

Christianson said any new rule that would mandate such testing would have to be suggested by a member institution or conference, then be approved by a vote of the schools.

Gene Egdorf, attorney for the Lloyd family, said Rice has agreed to lead efforts to add the rule.

"Dale died of complications related to sickle cell trait," Egdorf told the station. "Our big goal in this whole case has been to have testing for sickle cell trait become mandatory for NCAA athletes. Rice has agreed to step up as part of this settlement and go to the NCAA and propose legislation to make it mandatory that sickle cell trait testing take place from now on."

Egdorf said the settlement covers several Rice employees and others affiliated with the school at the time of the tragedy, including former head football coach Todd Graham, who now is the coach at Tulsa.

Rusty Hardin, an attorney for the university, said Rice and the Lloyd family were satisfied with the settlement.

"It's very fair to both sides," Hardin said.

Hardin said the school has been doing testing for sickle cell trait ever since Lloyd's death.

"When this tragedy happened Rice was tremendously distraught about it," he said. "It instituted its own testing program that is now in effect, mandatory testing."

He said Rice has said it would be glad to encourage the NCAA to have a testing program for all schools.

"Everybody wins in that situation," he said.