Division I football players will no longer have multiple contact practices a day in the preseason, the Division I Council decided at its April 13-14 meeting in Indianapolis.
The Council’s Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision members adopted immediate legislation supporting a plan endorsed by the NCAA Sport Science Institute and leading scientific and sports medicine organizations in the Year-Round Football Practice Contact Recommendations released in January.
“The Council’s action reinforces our commitment to the health and safety of our student-athletes,” said Council chair Jim Phillips, athletics director at Northwestern. “We continue to be guided by the recommendations from medical professionals, coaches and administrators and the strong support for discontinuing two contact practices in the same day.”
The action comes just a few months after the Division I Committee for Legislative Relief issued a blanket waiver to allow the football preseason to start up to a week earlier. That decision allowed schools to decide how best to manage their practice schedule while retaining 29 preseason practices.
A single day may include a single, three-hour, on-field practice session and a walk-through. During walk-throughs, protective equipment such as helmets and pads can’t be worn, and contact is prohibited. Walk-throughs also can’t include conditioning activities and, in the Football Championship Subdivision, are limited to two hours in length. Three continuous hours of recovery are required between on-field practice and a walk-through. Activities such as meetings, film review, medical treatment and meals are allowed during recovery time.
The Division I Football Oversight Committee supported the recommendations, as did the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. Research says that practices with tackling are more likely to cause a concussion than practices that don’t include tackling. Additionally, the decision allows for appropriate recovery time to prevent both heat illness and overuse injuries.