University of Missouri athletes will face mandatory sickle cell tests in a change spurred by the 2005 pre-season death of a 19-year-old football player. The change comes less than three months after the school agreed to pay $2 million to the family of reserve linebacker Aaron O’Neal. The redshirt freshman collapsed and died after a voluntary summer workout. The Boone County Medical Examiner ruled O’Neal’s official cause of death as Viral Meningitis. But several outside experts cited Sickle Cell Trait.
At least 13 college football players with the inherited blood disorder have died from exercise-induced trauma—seven occurred in the past decade. Nearly two-thirds of NCAA Division 1-A schools test their athletes for sickle cell.