Jan 26, 2017
Rules & Regulations

Following its January convention, the NCAA has made new recommendations and adopted new legislation regarding sports medicine and student-athlete health. Many of these changes are years in the making and have received strong support from members of the medical community.

For starters, the NCAA Sports Science Institute (SSI) has now provided stricter practice guidelines for football in all divisions. Many of the recommendations are meant to reduce unnecessary contact as much as possible and provide athletes with adequate time for acclimatization, rest, and recovery. They are also aimed at reducing concussions and other injuries. Medical organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), have openly supported these changes.

Some of the SSI’s recommendations include:

• Getting rid of two-a-day practices in the offseason

• Limiting live contact practices to three days a week in the offseason

• Limiting live contact practices to two days a week in-season

• Requiring a day off from practice during postseason/weeks prior to bowl game

• Limiting live contact practices in the spring to eight out of the 15 total sessions (Division I and Division II)

To view the SSI’s full list of recommendations, click here.

“These regulations should translate to a decreased incidence of concussion and limit any potential effects of repetitive subconcussive blows to the head,” William Meehan III, MD, FAAP, Director of the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention in Waltham, Mass., and representative of the AAP at the NCAA Safety Summit, said in a press release. “I am also encouraged by the fact that the NCAA based their recommendations on available evidence and involved many experts in their process.”

A different change that just impacts D-I student-athletes is the removal of restrictions on protein feeding. The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) has removed the longstanding “30 percent rule,” which restricted schools from providing athletes with food products that had protein as more than 30 percent of their total calories.

Lifting the restrictions comes after years of research in the scientific community has supported the important role of protein in helping athletes recover from training and competition. This move is meant to advance performance nutrition and student-athlete health and welfare based on current research and best practices. With the restrictions removed, sports dietitians will now be able to decide how to properly fuel their athletes.

“[The Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association] is proud to have had our members collaborate with the CSMAS in making the supplement rule change recommendation,” CPSDA President and Dallas Cowboys Director of Sports Performance Scott Sehnert, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, said in a press release. “This effort will benefit our members in their ability to fuel student-athletes both academically and on the field of play.”

A third recent change will impact sports in D-II. The D-II Legislative Committee approved a number of legislative proposals, one of which will require schools to grant primary athletics health care providers with “unchallengeable authority.” This proposal adopts the best practices recommended by the SSI and received overwhelming support from the D-II membership.

Schools will now be required to establish the proper administrative structure for the health care providers, namely team physicians and athletic trainers, by August 2017. This will give the providers complete authority on medical management and return-to-play decision. The legislation also requires schools to designate an athletics health care provider who will oversee the administration and delivery of athletics health care and ensure best practices are followed.

To view the full list of legislation passed by the D-II Legislative Committee, click here.

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