Though most college football fall practices won't begin for another month, the NCAA is getting a head start on head injuries. The NCAA on Monday released new safety guidelines that limit full-contact football practices and set procedures for diagnosing and managing concussions.
The most notable changes tackle contact in football practices. Under the new procedures, live-contact practices are limited to the following:
- Preseason: One live-contact practice allowed per day, four per week and 12 total per preseason. Three scrimmages, defined as live contact for more than 50 percent of practice, are allowed.
- Season: Two live-contact practices allowed per week
- Spring: Two live-contact practices allowed per week (not on consecutive days) and eight total per spring. Three scrimmages are allowed.
The guidelines also stipulate that a medical director or primary athletics health care provider be allowed autonomy to determine whether an injured player can return to play.
Athletes that sustain concussions should not be allowed to return to play for the remainder of the day, according to the guidelines.
The guidelines, the result of a six-month process involving college football coaches, administrators and medical organizations, are separated from legislated rules, meaning that they can adjust to new medical research. They are meant as resources for schools to develop their own policies.
Last season, the Pac-12 became the second conference to limit full contact practices to two per week during the regular season.
"With input from Pac-12 coaches, these practice contact policies have worked well in the Pac-12," said USC Coach Steve Sarkisian. "As coaches, it is important we maintain our ability to prepare our teams to compete each week while also looking at ways to ensure their safety."
Though reporting of head injuries is sporadic, Al Jazeera America, which tracked concussions during the 2013 season, reported that there are an estimated 4,000 concussion cases each year throughout college football.