The SEC (Southeastern Conference), a Division I participant of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), has recently formed a task force to study the effects of concussion among college football players.
The conference, which includes colleges in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, decided to form the group because of the several concussion lawsuits brought by former pro football players against the NFL.
Concern about the long-term effects of concussions is spreading from the professional level to the college athletics, especially since virtually none of the football conferences have established guidelines for dealing with head injuries.
University of Florida President Bernie Machen said last week, “We’re all aware that issues associated with concussions sustained during athletic competition have become increasingly matters of concern both within our league and indeed at the national level.”
The SEC’s decision comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s recent initiative to begin studying head injuries through its academic consortium. With 12 member universities in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the Big Ten conference includes some of the largest student bodies in the country.
Last year, the Ivy League, with eight private institutions in the northeastern U.S., became the only conference to implement specific guidelines in an effort to reducing concussions among its football players. Its rules now include limiting full-contact practices to twice a week, a 60 percent reduction from NCAA rules, as well as the possibility of players being penalized for helmet hits, including the option of suspension for intentional hits.