While the NCAA has yet to enact substantial concussion protocols throughout college athletics, The Big Ten Conference has announced they would be enacting stricter standards in an effort to better protect the health of college football players. The conference announced the rules on Monday, including penalties for non-compliance and use of an independent athletic trainer.
In the news release, the Big Ten stated its new concussion protocols “will move from best practices and minimum requirements for schools to regulatory standards by the conference.”
The new rules come shortly after two of the highest-profile concussion incidents of the season and perhaps college football history.
In September, the Big Ten was faced with controversy when Michigan allowed quarterback Shane Morris to return to play in a game despite sustaining a concussion and exhibiting clear symptoms. Following the incident, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) wrote to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany asking the conference to assess penalties for violating the conference’s concussion protocol.
Then, Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The athlete had a history of brain injury and shortly before going missing Karageorge sent his mother a text message reading, “Sorry if I am an embarrassment, but these concussions have my head all F—– up.” A coroner has said Karageorge’s brain will be sent for additional testing relating to TBI and associated conditions including chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
“The enhanced concussion protocols will be incorporated by reference into the existing conference-wide concussion management policy and will include reporting requirements, disciplinary action for non-compliance and a higher level of accountability for conference member institutions,” the Big Ten news release said.
Rep. Pascrell released a statement expressing tentative support for the protocol.
“I’m eager to hear the details of how the penalties for non-compliance will be assessed, because the only way they will be meaningful is if they are severe,” Pascrell said in a statement. “While this is an important step towards ensuring the safety of collegiate athletes, (the) NCAA must now step up and implement mandatory concussion protocols for all member schools and assess penalties for the violation of those protocols to protect athletes across all sports at all universities.”