NCAA Says That All College Athletes Should Be Tested for the Sickle-Cell Trait

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced that it will recommend to member colleges and universities that all student athletes be tested for the sickle-cell trait. This genetic disorder, which can affect persons of any race, is far more prevalent in African Americans than in whites. About one of every 12 African Americans have the sickle-cell trait.

During strenuous exercise the sickle-shaped red blood cells can clump together and block blood flow to vital organs. Seven college athletes have died since 2000 due to complications from sickle-cell disorders.

The NCAA decision is part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the parents of Dale Lloyd II, an African-American football player at Rice University. Lloyd died at a Rice football practice in 2006. The university had not tested the African-American athlete to determine if he had sickle-shaped red blood cells.

About two thirds of all NCAA member schools already test athletes for the sickle-cell trait.