The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) believes New Jersey’s charitable immunity law protects it from liability in a wrongful death action resulting from the death of a former college football player in Massachusetts.
The parents of Michael Mazza, a lineman at Mount Ida College in Massachusetts who died of a cardiac event in Feb. 2016 after a two-hour offseason workout with the rest of his football team, filed in a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey state court on April 18.
Mazza died just a few months before an NCAA task force published a report calling for better cardiac screening of athletes.
The wrongful death case has since been moved to federal court but the NCAA has asked the federal court to toss claims against it, arguing that New Jersey’s Charitable Immunity Act shields the organization from certain liability.
According to New Jersey’s Charitable Immunity Act, negligence claims filed against nonprofit organizations that operate exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes can be protected.
The NCAA is classified as a nonprofit despite making more than $1 billion in revenue, including $761 million from leveraging media rights for the 2017 NCAA basketball tournament and $129.4 million from marketing rights, according to Forbes. The tournament will earn the NCAA $14.8 billion in its current 10-year television contract through 2024.
To win the motion for dismissal, the NCAA will need to show that it is indeed a nonprofit association organized for educational purposes and that it was promoting these purposes at the time Mazza passed away.