By Greg Johnson, of the NCAA
To continue to address player safety concerns, the NCAA is moving forward with an experimental rule in football to allow medical observers to notify game officials when a player appears to have suffered a head/neck injury.
Under the rule recommended Monday by the NCAA Football Rules Committee, officials would immediately stop the game when notified to remove the player for medical evaluation. The rule would take effect for the 2015 season.
All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which could finalize the rule Thursday via conference call.
College Football Officiating endorsed a proposal from the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conferences to make this change for player safety reasons.
The medical observer could sit in the press-box booth with the instant-replay official. If the medical observer suspects a player has a head/neck injury that has gone undetected by the on-field officials, the medical observer would alert the instant-replay official, who would contact the referee to stop the game so the player could be removed and evaluated by the team’s medical staff.
The conference-assigned medical observer also could be located on the sidelines instead of the instant-replay booth.
In non-conference games, the visiting team could choose whether it wants to play the game using the experimental rule if the home team intends to use this provision.
If this experimental rule is approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, conferences would be asked to submit a report to the NCAA Football Rules Committee at its 2016 meeting in February, at which time the committee could entertain a proposed permanent change to the rules.