The NCAA is suggesting that football teams hold no more than two contact
practices per week during the season in guidelines that grew out of a
safety and concussion summit early this year.
were among several recommendations released Monday by the NCAA, which
called them guidelines that could change "in real time" rather than rules
passed through legislation.
guidelines also recommend four contact practices per week during the
preseason and no more than eight of the 15 sessions during spring
football. The NCAA already has legislation regarding preseason and spring
body of college sports is also suggesting that schools have independent
doctors to evaluate injuries and a "return to learn" process for
integrating athletes back into their academic work after they have been
diagnosed with a concussion.
the regular-season limit of two contact practices per week, the NCAA is
essentially joining a growing chorus in college football. It's already in
place in the Ivy League and Pac-12, and many teams have cut back on the
number of contact practices, defined as any workout involving tackling or
"When we were
working with the coaches and talking to them about this, it was amazing to
see how many already were self-regulating because they realize that when
the kids are beat up, they just aren't as ready to perform as well," Dr.
Brian Hainline, chief medical officer for the NCAA, told The Associated
Press. "And some of them have a very illuminated view of this because they
also understand that when kids are beat up, they're at a greater risk of
overwhelming evidence that a reduction in contact practices leads to fewer
concussions, but common sense is at play for coaches who are cutting back
on contact work, said Scott Anderson, Oklahoma's athletic trainer and
president of the College Athletic Trainers' Society.
"We're acting on
what we know," Anderson said. "The more contact, and the more intense the
contact, the more likely that a concussion is to occur."
Hainline said one
of the highlights for him coming out of the Safety in College Football
Summit in Atlanta in January was a suggestion for schools to develop a
program for getting athletes back up to speed academically after they
sustain a concussion. Most of those discussions historically have involved
getting a player ready to return to the field.
guideline says the group making the decisions should include coaches,
doctors, athletic trainers, counselors and professors.
"It's not only
talking about the health and safety of the student-athletes," Hainline
said. "It's a concussion guideline where we're saying, 'Look, these kids
are students first and we have to make certain that if they have a
concussion, there's a good return-to-learn pathway for them.'"
suggest that medical decisions regarding players should be made
"independently of a coach" and that a physician should be a medical
director over a head athletic trainer. That medical team should have
"unchallengeable autonomous authority" regarding a player's return to the
(trying) to establish with these guidelines is the perception and the
reality that the physician is the lynchpin," Anderson said.
Anderson also said they wanted concussion and medical evaluation protocols
used in all sports, even though the summit only said football in the
"It was really
athlete safety, knowing and understanding that the concussion experience
isn't just a football issue," Anderson said. "It extends to virtually all
athletes in all sports, some at greater risk than others."