Tag Archives: College

Recommendation: Reduce Contact in Football Practices

By Greg Johnson, of NCAA.org

The Division I Football Oversight Committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposed guideline to reduce the recommended number of live-contact practices that teams conduct each week from two to one. The practice guidelines take effect six days before each team’s 2016 regular-season opening game and run through the final regular-season game or conference championship game.

The guidelines allow players who do not compete in a game in a particular week to participate in an additional live-contact practice to work on skill development and master proper techniques.

The committee made the recommendation during a teleconference Wednesday as a clarification to the inter-association consensus guidelines for in-season football practice contact that the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute helped develop in 2014.

The committee made the recommendation in an effort to improve player safety, believing it could decrease athlete exposure to concussion, including repeat concussion and overall head impact exposure. Data indicate that football players are more frequently diagnosed with sport-related concussion on days with an increase in frequency and higher magnitude of head impact.

Live-contact practices are defined as any practice that involves live tackling to the ground and/or full-speed blocking. A live-contact practice may occur in full pad or half pad (also known as “shell,” in which the player wears shoulder pads and shorts, with or without thigh pads). Live contact does not include “thud” sessions or drills that involve “wrapping up,” because in those scenarios players are not taken to the ground and contact is not aggressive in nature.

To assist schools with applying the definition, the committee also endorsed clarifying that a live-contact practice is any practice that involves players being taken to the ground.

The Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports is expected to recommend the same in-season, live-contact practice guidelines for Division II and Division III football programs.

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NCAA Committee Supports Giving Athletic Trainers and Physicians Unchallengeable Authority

By Brian Hendrickson, of the NCAA.org

The NCAA’s committee responsible for student-athlete health and safety took steps at its summer meeting to better establish medical personnel as authoritative decision-makers in college sports.

During its meeting June 15-17 in Dallas, the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports approved a series of recommendations that build on legislation passed by the NCAA’s five autonomy conferences earlier this year and would establish athletic trainers and team physicians as unchallengeable decision-makers for medical management and return-to-play decisions related to student-athletes. The recommendations would also create a new designated position on campuses – an athletics healthcare administrator – which would ensure campuses are following established best practices for medical care.

“Over the last three years, the committee has consistently worked to empower primary athletics health care providers and championed organizational structures that ensure independent medical care for student-athletes,” said CSMAS chair Forrest Karr, athletics director at Northern Michigan University. “These recommendations are another step in the process. We envision a future where each member institution, in all three divisions, will designate an athletics health care administrator responsible for ensuring that their school’s policies and procedures follow inter-association consensus recommendations and comply with all NCAA health and safety legislation.”

The committee crafted its recommendations by working from legislation that was passed by the five autonomy conferences in Division I at the 2016 NCAA Convention. That legislation will take effect Aug. 1 and provides unchallengeable autonomous authority to team physicians and athletic trainers at schools in those conferences to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions related to student-athletes. The remaining conferences in Division I currently have the option of applying that legislation.

The CSMAS recommendations aim to shape the intent of that legislation into a consistent standard across college sports. To get there, CSMAS made three recommendations:

  • One recommendation encourages leagues outside the autonomy conferences in Division I to apply the autonomous legislation passed in January. The recommendation asks that those conferences opt in to the legislation by Aug. 1, 2017.
  • A second legislative recommendation asks the Division I autonomous conferences to clarify the bylaw passed in January by changing the name of its oversight position – called a director of medical services in that legislation – to athletics healthcare administrator. The name change was requested out of concern that the position could be confused with the title of “medical director,” which is established elsewhere in NCAA bylaws.
  • A third recommendation asks Divisions II and III to sponsor legislation similar to that passed by the Division I autonomous conferences to establish the athletics health care administrator position and provide team physicians and athletic trainers with unchallengeable autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions related to student-athletes. The committee stressed that the health care administrator role may be given to an existing staff member rather than create an additional administrative position.

CSMAS recommendations follow those from other organizations in recent years which called for physicians and athletic trainers to have the ability to make medical decisions without fear of interference from coaches or other athletics personnel.

In 2014, the Journal of Athletic Training published interassociation best practices – of which the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute was included as an endorsing organization – which included giving physicians and athletic trainers authority to make medical decisions for student-athletes. That document was published at a time when a national survey conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education documented that athletic trainers, in particular, function under the heavy influence of the coaching staffs: Thirty-two percent of respondents indicated the head coach influences their hiring; 42 percent reported feeling pressured to return a concussed athlete to play early; and 52 percent reported feeling pressured to return injured athletes early.


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Twenty-eight Researchers and Companies Advance to Next Phase of Mind Matters Challenge

From the NCAA’s Chris Radford:

The NCAA has announced the selectees for the second phase of the Mind Matters Challenge. The challenge, which seeks to advance understanding of how to change culture, attitudes and behavior in young adults about concussion, is part of the broader joint initiative between the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense.Giving The Green Light To Drive After Head Trauma

The Mind Matters Challenge focuses on two initiatives:

  • A research challenge designed to identify key factors and methodologies to change the culture and behavior of college student-athletes.
  • An educational program challenge meant to improve the effectiveness of concussion awareness programs delivered to student-athletes, which may then translate to service members and other at-risk populations.

The goal of the Mind Matters Challenge is to improve concussion awareness education programs delivered to college athletes, service members and their influencers so that all clearly understand a concussion is a serious medical condition requiring appropriate treatment – just like a knee injury, eye injury or broken bone.

“Real change in concussion reporting must be rooted in science – not just in better defining the natural history of concussion through the study we have launched with the Department of Defense, but also the science of how to effect culture change,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said. “In areas like smoking cessation, the U.S. didn’t see real decreases until the culture changed. That is precisely the kind of environment we seek to create around concussion in the coming years through this challenge.”

Research Challenge

Participants in the research challenge are competing for a maximum of 10 research grants for amounts ranging up to $400,000. The challenge seeks to fund research into the mechanisms influencing cultural change in the target population. During the preliminary review, the NCAA and Department of Defense internal review panels identified a pool of exemplary proposals that intend to use a combination of sound methodologies and innovative approaches to change attitudes about concussions in young adults.

Those invited to participate in the next phase of the research challenge have the opportunity to submit comprehensive project proposals for final review.  All funding decisions will be made based upon these submissions, due Oct. 15. Winners will be selected this fall. Award amounts to each winning respondent will depend on the nature and scope of the respective proposal.

Phase Two Research Challenge participants:

  • Steve Corman, Arizona State University
  • Shelina Babul, British Columbia Injury Research & Prevention Unit
  • Doug Coatsworth, Colorado State University
  • Deborah Koltai Attix, Duke University Medical Center
  • John Xerogeanes, Emory University
  • Tracey Covassin, Michigan State University
  • Kami Silk, Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • Rachel Allison, Mississippi State University
  • Janice C. Stapley, Monmouth University
  • Debbie I. Craig, Northern Arizona University
  • Mehdi Kalantari, Resensys
  • Jessica Mirman, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Johna K. Register-Mihalik, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Dr. Shellie Acocello, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Christopher D’Lauro, U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Breton Asken, University of Florida
  • Julianne D. Schmidt, University of Georgia
  • Robert W. Turner, University of Maryland, College Park
  • David L. Wyrick, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Ann Elizabeth Glang, University of Oregon
  • Dee Anne Warmath, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Joel P. Bish, Ursinus College
  • Educational Program Challenge

The educational program challenge seeks entities with the expertise and capability to create compelling and impactful educational materials for college athletes and other at-risk populations in the area of concussion education, based on the best information available today.

Winning proposals for phase one of the educational program challenge will receive cash prizes of $25,000 each and have been invited to participate in phase two, which includes $75,000 of additional production funding to create a short educational demonstration. Phase one winners were selected based on the assessment of a joint NCAA-DOD review panel that at least one element of the submission is worth further development and exploration.

Phase One Educational Program Challenge winners:

  • William Ernst, Chestnut Hill College
  • Steve Nels Katzenberger, Creative Street Media Group
  • Brooke de Lench, MomsTEAM Institute, Inc.
  • Ashley Denise Marass, University of South Alabama
  • Ricardo Valerdi, Science of Sport/University of Southern California
  • Rennae Williams, Johnson C. Smith University

For more information, please visit www.mindmatterschallenge.org

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