The NFL is no longer backing a Boston University head trauma study that was originally slated to be funded by a grant the NFL gave the National Institutes of Health in 2012, ESPN’s Outside the Lines reports.
Boston University announced Tuesday that the NIH was committed to paying for the $16 million project, but did not name the NFL as a supporter of the initiative.
The NFL granted the NIH $30 million designated for research in 2012, which the NIH said at the time came with “no strings attached.” Conflicting reports emerged about how much power the NFL actually retained over what that money was spent on, including Tuesday’s Outside the Lines report stating that the NFL was backing out of the BU project because its leading researcher, Robert Stern, has been openly critical of the NFL.
The NIH, however, release a statement refuting the ESPN report, saying that the NFL has remained committed to funding the Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP) and the Boston University study.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy also pushed back against ESPN's report, reiterating that the NIH makes its own funding decisions.
ESPN story is not accurate. NFL did not pull any funding. NIH makes its own decisions.— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) December 22, 2015
Whether or not the NFL is still involved, the project seeking the ability to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living patients will proceed.
“This problem is larger than the NFL,” said Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “We’re trying to get answers for people. There are a lot of concerned people out there, especially parents of kids.”
- Erin Flynn