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NCAA, D-II Slippery Rock sued over death of Jack Hill, Jr.

Sep 10, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT

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The family of a Division II basketball player that died after an intense practice due to complications from sickle cell trait have sued Slippery Rock (PA) University and the NCAA.

The parents of Jack Hill Jr., Jack Sr. and Cheryl, said that their son wasn’t screened for sickle cell trait and that school officials didn’t do enough to save their son’s life. Screening for sickle cell wasn’t required for Division I athletes until 2010 or for Division II athletes until 2012.

Hill died exactly two years ago Tuesday, on September 10th, 2011.

“The tragedy of the preventable death of a promising young man is that knowing that sickle cell trait was the leading cause of student athlete deaths, the NCAA began mandating testing for SCT at Division I schools in 2010, but the mandate didn’t take effect at Division II schools like Slippery Rock until August 2012 — a year after Jack’s death, and a direct contributor to it,” said Tom Kline, the parents’ attorney who announced the lawsuit Monday.

Sickle cell trait is not a disease state and it does not affect the normal life expectancy of someone with the SCT, but it is dangerous for athletes. When a person with SCT exerts themselves too much physically, their red blood cells can sickle, or form c-shapes. Those sickles can result in blockages being in veins and capillaries, which can have serious, sometimes deadly, repercussions if the logjams stop the blood from flowing.

Athletes with SCT can be just as successful as athletes without SCT. Last summer, I wrote a story on Billy Garrett, who is currently a freshman at DePaul, and how he battles SCT. Proper hydration is a key, as is the moderation and mitigation of their physical exertion. Athletes with SCT should get more time to finish a timed two-mile run, or more time in between suicides at the end of practices.

Hill, according to the lawsuit, died during a “nighttime ‘insanity practice’ [held] as punishment for the entire team,” according to the AP.

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