The NCAA has issued new guidelines to protect college football players following several lawsuits by former players who sustained head injuries. The guidelines are an effort to prevent repetitive head injuries to players. The NCAA’s new guidelines point to changes made by the Ivy League and the PAC-12 which reduced the number of direct, full-pad practices, and put new policies into place to protect player safety.
The NCAA guidelines for all of its member colleges and universities include the following:
- Preseason. Teams should limit the number of full-contact practices to four a week, with a maximum of 12 during the pre-season, and during pre-season days with two-a-day sessions, only one should be a full-contact practice.
- In season. Teams should limit the number of full-contact practices to two a week, with no maximums.
- Spring practices. Teams are currently limited to 15 spring practices. Only eight of these should be full-contact practices, and these should be limited to two per week, with at least a day of rest in between full-contact practices.
The new NCAA guidelines note that that head injuries are more common in games than in practices, and note that severe concussions are 14 times more common in full-pad practices than in half-pad or helmets only practices. The new guidelines state that, “Historically, rules changes and behavior modification have reduced catastrophic injury and death…there is a growing consensus that we must analyze existing data in a consensus-based manner to develop guidelines that promote safety. Safe football means good football.”
Note that these are only guidelines, not NCAA rules or requirements. It is unknown which NCAA Division I football programs will be adopting these for the fall college football season.
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