Football medical professionals will be given the final authority to determine if a player suffering from a concussion or any other injury may be able to return to the football field during a game as a result of a new rule approved by the power conferences during an NCAA convention this week. The new rule is added on top of existing concussion protocols at each school and removes the power of a head coach to insert a player back into a game at the risk of any further injury. The new rule was proposed by the Big 12 and was passed without much contention, passing by a 79-1 vote.
“I believe it’s the most important legislation in the history of the NCAA,” said Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer and a neurologist. “It really defines who the primary athletics health-care providers are.”
One aspect of the rule also prohibits a head coach at a college football program from having any hiring or firing say in the medical official to serve on the staff. That helps eliminate any pressure a head coach may have over a medical official, which can open a door to the pressure to return a player to the field before that player may ultimately be ready to play.
“I think there has been concern expressed that there are sometimes influences on athletic trainers and physicians to get them to return to play sooner than he or she is ready to,” Hainline said. “No one should be able to challenge that authority.”
Some schools already allow their medical staff to have the final say, but this new rule makes this a standard each power five conference member will have to adhere to. Naturally, Group of Five conferences and schools will be encouraged to follow in this mold moving forward, and odds are most, if not all, of the other conferences will look into making this rule a standard soon enough.