Posted on April 16, 2010 · Posted in Brain Injury

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is making changes to its rules for college football and wrestling to better protect student athletes from concussions.

The NCAA considers preventing or reducing the number of concussions important enough that it is making these football and wrestling rule changes in an off-year of the usual two-year process. Rules changes related to health and safety are permitted in off-years.

In the case of college football, wedge blocks will be barred this fall.

The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved that change Thursday.

The NCAA is following in the footsteps of the National Football League, which a year ago prohibited wedge blocking on kickoffs because of safety concerns. The NCAA now says that when the team receiving a kickoff has more than two players standing within two yards of one another, shoulder to shoulder, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty — even if there is no contact between the teams, according to the Associated Press.

This change is being instituted because NCAA studies have found that 20 percent of all injuries occurring on kickoffs result in concussions.

And the NCAA Wrestling Committee is recommending a change to an injury rule to better protect competitors who show signs of a concussion, the organization said Friday.

The proposed change is to Rule 6.2, which was suggested to read: “If a contestant is rendered unconscious, or shows signs of a concussion or spinal injury, that wrestler shall not be permitted to continue in the match or return to competition without approval of a physician or certified athletic trainer.”

In essence, the change adds concussion symptoms to the list of injuries that require medical attention and positions athletic trainers and physicians as the authorities for that oversight.

The Football Rules Committee and Soccer Rules Committee took similar actions earlier this year.

“Committee members thought it would be prudent to limit the decision-making responsibility for whether a student-athlete may continue wrestling after showing signs of a concussion to a physician or certified athletic trainer,” committee chair Brad Traviolia, who is also the deputy commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, said in a statement.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP), which will meet via conference call June 2, must approve the change.

In January, PROP endorsed efforts by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to manage concussion issues more effectively. PROP instructed each rules committee to thoroughly review its policies in the areas of stopping play for injuries and to consider instituting rules that may further prevent head injuries.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447