147 colleges have a former football player who has been diagnosed with CTE; 26 have at least three

Friday, November 2, 2018

(Boston) – The Concussion Legacy Foundation announced today that 147 colleges have had former football players diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Twenty-six colleges have had at least three former players with CTE, led by 6th ranked Georgia with nine. Of those 26, nine are currently ranked in the Top 25 of the AP College Football Rankings, including #1 Alabama and #3 Notre Dame.

“We are releasing this data to remind the public that CTE is not just a problem for NFL players,” said Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “It has probably been diagnosed in an alumnus of your college as well.”

The data is from the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, a collaboration between the VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston University, and the Concussion Legacy Foundation led by Dr. Ann McKee, who was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine in recognition of outstanding achievement.

Every member of the college football Power 5 conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and Southeastern Conference (SEC)) has at least one member represented among the 26 college football programs with three or more confirmed cases of CTE. All 14 schools in the Big Ten have at least one case of CTE. The 26 programs which have three or more confirmed cases have combined for 83 national championships.

A study published earlier this year from researchers at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank found that 190 of 202 football players (94 percent) studied who played in college or the NFL have been diagnosed with CTE.[1] Among players who played in college but did not play professionally, CTE was diagnosed in 86 percent (57 of 66). 86 percent does not represent the prevalence of CTE in former college football players, as families are more likely to donate if their loved one had symptoms associated with CTE. Scientists are trying to understand how these football families, without medical training, have correctly diagnosed their loved one with CTE nearly nine out of 10 times, as there are no published methods for diagnosing CTE in living people.

CTE is not seen outside of individuals with a history of exposure to brain trauma, frequently from contact sports. A 2015 study by the Mayo Clinic could not find a single case of CTE in 198 control brains, including 33 who had a traumatic brain injury in their medical record.[2]

Lee Reherman is one of the college football players represented in this cohort. An All-Ivy League offensive tackle at Cornell University, he went on to global fame as “Hawk” on the television phenomenon “American Gladiators,” and was later a successful actor and television host. Prior to his death at age 49 in 2016, Reherman expressed to family and friends that he had difficulties remembering details, was feeling depressed, and was frustrated with his declining health.

The cohort also includes former Army West Point football player Robert Allardice, who died at age 67 due to complications of dementia; Salvadore DiMucci, who played for the University of Wisconsin and died at age 35 in a car accident; Ryan Hoffman, an offensive lineman for the University of North Carolina who battled mental illness and homelessness before his death at age 41; and Greg Ploetz, who was a national champion with the Texas Longhorns in 1969 and died due to complications of dementia at age 66.

The goal of the research is to learn how to diagnose and treat CTE in living athletes. Former college football players are encouraged to enroll in ongoing research studies at Boston University accessible here

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that is associated with deficits in cognition, behavior, and mood. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is believed to be caused by exposure to repetitive head impacts, including concussions as well as subconcussive trauma. College football participation was compiled from public records and interviews with family members. Only the names for which families have given permission are included below.

 

College or University

Cases

Publicly Released Cases

Georgia

9

Arthur DeCarlo, Anthony Morocco, Paul Oliver, Joseph O’Malley, Thomas Thornhill

Michigan State

8

Dave Behrman, Drake Garrett, Earl Morrall, John Polonchek, Dick Proebstle, Bubba Smith

Auburn

5

Forrest Blue, Charles Collins, Donnie Humphrey

Iowa

5

Kyle Calloway, Wally Hilgenberg, Jon Roehlk, Tyler Sash

Ohio State

5

Kosta Karageorge

Purdue

5

Dennis Wirgowski, Edward Voytek

South Carolina 

5

Bill Troup, Alexander Hawkins

University of Southern California (USC)

5

Eric Scoggins, Jeff Winans

Wisconsin

5

Salvadore DiMucci, Dave Kocourek, Jim Temp

Alabama

4

Raymond Abruzzese, Ken Stabler, Kevin Turner

Arizona State

4

John Henry Johnson, Charles Mackey

Arkansas

4

Daniel Brabham, Lew Carpenter, Ronnie Caveness

Boston College

4

Ron Perryman

Colorado State

4

Keli McGregor

Kansas State

4

Henry Childs, Andrew Erker

Michigan

4

Thomas Keating, Rob Lytle, Joseph Soboleski

Notre Dame

4

Dave Duerson, Pete Duranko, Peter Grant

San Diego State

4

Leo Carrol, Jeff Staggs, Ralph Wenzel

Texas

4

Shane Dronett, Jim Hudson, Greg Ploetz

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

4

Melvin Farr, Don Paul

Washington

4

Benjamin Davidson, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim

Cornell

3

Tom McHale, Lee Reherman

Nebraska

3

 

North Carolina

3

Ross Hawkins, Ryan Hoffman

Ole Miss

3

Bobby Crespino, Doug Cunningham

Penn State

3

Tony Sorrentino

 

Conference

Member Colleges

Percent

CTE Cases

Southeastern Conference (SEC)

12 of 14

86%

38

Pac-12

11 of 12

92%

26

Big Ten

14 of 14

100%

43

ACC

10 of 14

72%

17

Big 12

5 of 10

50%

12

Colleges with one or two CTE cases include: Abilene Christian, Baylor, Bucknell, Cal Poly, Cal State, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, California Berkeley, Clemson, College of the Pacific, Colgate, Colorado, Compton Junior College, Dartmouth, Drexel, Duke, Elmhurst, Emory and Henry College, Emporia State, Ferris State, George Washington, Georgetown, Georgia Institute of Technology, Gettysburg, Grambling State, Grand Valley State, Hampden-Sydney College, Harding, Harvard, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Howard Payne, Howard, Indiana, Jacksonville State, Kansas, Kent State, Lakeland College, Long Beach City College, Miami University of Ohio, Mississippi State, Missouri Southern, Montana Tech, New Mexico State, North Carolina A&T, Northern Colorado, Northwestern State, Northwestern, Oregon State, Otterbein, Pittsburgh State, Prairie View A&M, Presbyterian College, Rice, Rutgers, Saginaw Valley State, San Jose State, Snow College, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, South Dakota State, Southeast Missouri State, Southern Connecticut, Southern Methodist, Southern, St. Johns, St. Leo University, Stanford, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Texas A&M, Texas Southern, The Citadel, Trinity, Tulane, U.S. Naval Academy, Arizona, University of British Columbia, Charleston, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Manitoba, Maryland, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota, Mizzou, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, UPenn, Pitt, Richmond, University of San Francisco, Tennessee, UTEP, University of the Pacific, Utah, Virginia, Oregon, Upper Iowa University, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Virginia Military Institute, Wake Forest, Washington State, West Chester University, West Point, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Whitworth, William and Mary, Wittenberg, and Yale.


[1] Alosco, ML, Mez, J, McKee, AC et al. Age of First Exposure to Tackle Football and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Ann Neurol. Published online April 30, 2018. doi:10.1002/ana.25245

[2] Bieniek KF, Ross OA, Cormier KA, et al. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy pathology in a neurodegenerative disorders brain bank. Acta Neuropathol. 2015;130(6):877-89.

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