Resolution Reached in Bennie Abram Case Regarding Sickle Cell Trait

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Bennie Abram
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Bennie Abram
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

July 22, 2013

OXFORD, Miss. - The lawsuit concerning the death of former University of Mississippi student-athlete Bennie Abram has been settled with no finding of fault against the university's athletics program, its athletic trainers, administrators or the NCAA. Previous inaccurate public statements and reports suggested a financial settlement was reached with the NCAA and the university. In fact, an NCAA payment reported by the media was from a catastrophic insurance policy unrelated to the lawsuit, and a $50,000 payment by the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation was offered as a settlement to avoid further legal expenses, which might have been greater than the settlement.

To honor Bennie Abram, the university announced plans to share with other programs its expertise in managing athletics-related illnesses and crises. A defensive back from Southaven, Miss., Abram collapsed on Feb. 19, 2010 during an offseason workout. The 20-year-old became distressed and was treated immediately on the scene by medical staff before being taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where he later died of complications from sickle cell trait. It was the first day of team conditioning drills, although Abram had been training with the strength staff in the weeks prior.

"While the legal component of this tragedy is behind us, the loss of Bennie will always be felt by the Ole Miss family and all those he touched," said Ross Bjork, Ole Miss Director of Athletics. "It also serves as a reminder to all of us that student-athlete well-being will always be our No. 1 priority. While our review showed that our care for student-athletes and our emergency action plans followed best practices in this case, we will continue to evaluate our efforts to ensure that we are providing the safest and most thorough healthcare for our student-athletes. We look forward to the educational programs hosted by Ole Miss around student-athlete safety and continuing to recognize Bennie throughout our athletics program."

The Abram family filed the lawsuit in May 2011.

"Early in the lawsuit, it became apparent from the lawsuit's allegations that the family did not know what had happened," said Lee Tyner, university attorney and chief of staff. "We decided that they deserved an opportunity to ask any question in a candid, straightforward way. So we did something extraordinary: in the summer of 2012, with litigation ongoing, the family met with our athletic trainers and the treating physician to ask anything they wanted. This effort to take care of the family's need for accurate information helped clear the air and led directly to the settlement."

An internal review found that the Ole Miss strength and conditioning and sports medicine professionals followed universal best practices consistent with NCAA, National Athletic Trainers' Association and other guidance regarding sickle cell trait. In fact, Rebel student-athletes were being tested for the trait even though NCAA rules did not require it at the time.

Abram was informed he carried sickle cell trait and received counseling regarding care. All Ole Miss medical personnel were alerted Abram carried the trait, and when he showed the first signs of distress, he was given immediate assistance and strict emergency protocols were followed.

To honor Abram, Ole Miss is furthering its leadership role in student-athlete safety by launching an educational program for student-athletes and sports medicine and conditioning personnel on best practices for preventing athletics-related emergencies. This will include a lecture series for Mississippi high schools and junior colleges, educational sessions at university sports camps and speakers at various conferences in the state.

Ole Miss had already begun recognition for Abram on campus, and those tributes are being expanded to include displays in the football locker room and athletics training room. In addition, the Bennie F. Abram III Scholarship will be awarded to a student trainer, and the Bennie F. Abram III Academic Achievement Award will be presented at the Rebels Choice Awards to the walk-on football player with the highest GPA.

Ole Miss will also provide tuition to Bennie's mother and two brothers for undergraduate and graduate courses at the university.

The NCAA did not make a monetary payment in connection with the settlement but did agree to continue to expand the provision of certain education and information related to student-athlete health.

As part of the case's resolution, the NCAA is distributing a "Point of Emphasis" regarding its Sports Medicine Handbook, which has been revised to stress the care and treatment of student-athletes. A legislative proposal is also being recommended that includes measures to help ensure greater safety at NCAA institutions.

"This settlement is another step in raising awareness of the dangers of sickle cell trait among athletes, and helping prevent tragic deaths such as (Bennie)'s," says The Lanier Law Firm's Gene Egdorf, who represents the Abram family. "We are pleased that Ole Miss and the NCAA stepped up and settled this matter in a way that honors (his) memory and will help save lives in the future."

Unrelated to the lawsuit or the claims in the suit, the Abram family received $275,000 in insurance proceeds, which was paid before the suit was filed. Of that amount, $250,000 came from Ole Miss' student-athlete insurance policy and $25,000 from the NCAA's policy.

2/23/2014 - Health and Sports Performance

Hull, Jackson Share Olympic Skeleton Experience

Read More [+]

09/04/2013 - Health and Sports Performance

More Than Surgery And Rehabilitation

Read More [+]

06/13/2013 - Health and Sports Performance

Katie Breathitt Named Muscle Milk Athlete Of The Year

Read More [+]

05/31/2013 - Health and Sports Performance

SEC Announces Update On Concussions

Read More [+]

11/13/2012 - Health and Sports Performance

Jones Chairing SEC Working Group On Concussions

Read More [+]

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Rebels Emerge on Four Watch Lists This Week

      Friday, July 17, 2015 -

      Only 50 days until The Grove is full, the constant shouts of "Hotty Toddy" are in the air, and football kicks off 100 years in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium! Looking forward to this upcoming college football season, seven Rebels were named to... read more

    • Football Rebels All Over First Week of Watch List Releases

      Friday, July 10, 2015 -

      As we near the 2015 college football season, national organizations have started to release watch lists for their respective awards. Through the first week of watch lists being released, multiple Rebels have been announced as players that fans need to... read more

    • Engram, Hilton and Johnson to Represent Ole Miss at SEC Football Media Days

      Wednesday, July 8, 2015 -

      Along with head coach Hugh Freeze, three Rebels will represent Ole Miss at the annual SEC Football Media Days next week. Junior Evan Engram, just named to the John Mackey Award Watch List for college football's most outstanding tight end,... read more

    • Five Rebels Tabbed Preseason All-SEC in The Birmingham News

      Tuesday, June 30, 2015 -

      Five Ole Miss Rebels were chosen as preseason All-SEC selections by some of the people who work closest with the student-athletes, the football media relations directors. The 14 football media relations directors of the Southeastern Conference institutions voted in the... read more

    • Lindy's Sports Gives Seven Rebels Preseason Recognition

      Wednesday, June 24, 2015 -

      The preseason accolades just don't stop for the Ole Miss football team. Everywhere you look, Rebels can be found on preseason All-America teams. Lindy's Sports recognized seven Rebels for preseason honors, including four All-Americans. Four Ole Miss Football Rebels were... read more

    • Five Rebels Named Preseason All-America by Athlon Sports

      Tuesday, June 23, 2015 -

      With the season just 74 days away, members of the 2015 Ole Miss football team continue to earn recognition on Preseason All-America lists. Athlon Sports, the latest media outlet to release its 2015 college football preseason All-America team, gave five... read more

    • Sporting News Tabs Four Rebels to Preseason All-America Teams

      Monday, June 15, 2015 - Football

      Preseason All-America football teams continue to roll in, and Ole Miss has been well represented each time.Today, the Sporting News unveiled its preseason All-America first and second teams, which includes a total of four Rebels.OT Laremy Tunsil and DT Robert... read more

    • Athlon Sports Names Nine Rebels Preseason All-SEC

      Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - Football

      Individual preseason accolades continue to pile up for the Ole Miss football team as college football magazines look toward the 2015 season. Athlon Sports is the latest magazine to release its preseason all-conference teams, June 10; the magazine named nine... read more

    • Eleven Rebels Garner Phil Steele Preseason Honors

      Monday, June 1, 2015 - Football

      The start of summer heat and vacations is also the start of another tradition - preseason college football magazines.One of the first to produce a magazine every year is Phil Steele, whose 2015 version includes about as many Ole Miss... read more

    • Football Signees Report for Summer Classes

      Friday, May 29, 2015 - Football

      Although they will not begin competing for the Rebels until the fall, several members of the 2015 signing class have arrived at Ole Miss to begin their college journey this summer. The first of two summer sessions offered at the... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (April 28-May 4, 2015)

      Monday, May 4, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 28-May 4, 2015Baseball - The Rebels started the week defeating the Bulldogs, 11-1 in the annual Governor's Cup. The 10-run win for the Rebels marked the largest margin of victory in the 36-year history... read more

    • VIDEO: Rebel Road Trip 2015

      Monday, May 4, 2015 - Athletics

      Rebel Road Trip 2015 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • More on Steelers' Selection of Golson

      Friday, May 1, 2015 - Football

      Welcome to Pittsburgh...and welcome to #SteelersNation, @Quez_G! #SteelersDraft pic.twitter.com/oY8wZc10Kk-- Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2015 Congrats Senquez Golson! Drafted 56th overall in the 2015 #NFLDRAFT by the Pittsburgh Steelers. #HottyToddy #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/EPGayDNOu7-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) May 2, 2015 Ole... read more

    • Six Rebels Among Inaugural Scott County HOF Class

      Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - Athletics

      Six men with ties to Ole Miss were part of the inaugural class of 25 athletes and coaches inducted into the Scott County Hall of Fame this past Saturday at Roosevelt State Park in Morton. It is believed that this... read more

    • Freeze, Tuohy Conclude Play at Charity Golf Tournament

      Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - Football

      In a tie for 7th place at 7-under, @OleMissFB takes home $30,000 in charity and scholarship. #CFAPBGolf pic.twitter.com/qd0JzilyYR-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 28, 2015 The Ole Miss team of head football coach Hugh Freeze and Sean Tuohy turned in a strong... read more