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Greg Johnson | NCAA.com | April 18, 2016

Wrestling Rules Committee recommends concussion evaluation proposal

Change would allow medical staff unlimited time to examine injured athlete

New precautions for concussions in college wrestling may be formalized soon.

The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee this week recommended a rules change that would allow medical personnel an unlimited and unimpeded amount of time for concussion evaluation of wrestlers, beginning in the 2016-17 season.

All rules recommendations must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss wrestling rules proposals via teleconference June 15.

The committee, which met April 11-13 in Indianapolis, also recommended, in cases of uncertainty, that medical staff be given the ability to remove participants from the wrestling area to perform a concussion evaluation.

During the evaluation, the match will be suspended until a decision is rendered by the medical professional. The referee, the coaches of both participants and the non-injured wrestler would be required to remain on the mat during the evaluation.

A concussion evaluation timeout will not count as an injury timeout or recovery timeout. Coaching of the wrestler being evaluated would not be permitted.

In a separate recommendation from the rules committee, the injured wrestler would not be permitted to be coached during all other non-bleeding injury timeouts.

“Both of these new rules proposals are about providing medical personnel dedicated and uninterrupted time with the injured athlete so they can make a more accurate health and safety decision in an already limited timeframe,” said NCAA Wrestling Secretary-Rules Editor Chuck Barbee.

In the case of a severe or traumatic situation, medical personnel may request the wrestler’s coach to assist in calming the injured wrestler. However, coaches would be required to remove themselves from the situation during any assessment period related to the injury or concussion evaluation.

Both proposals were issued as interpretations during the 2015-16 wrestling season based on recommendations made at the NCAA Sports Science Institute Wrestling Summit in July 2015.

 “These rules recommendations are a good indicator of the committee’s commitment to continuing to explore and advance new rules that positively impact the student-athlete’s health and safety, Barbee said. 

During the meeting, the committee also reviewed rules that went into effect in the 2015-16 season and had extensive discussions about possible new rules that could be considered for the 2017-2018 season.

“Overall, the committee is pleased that for the 2016-17 season, other than our health and safety rules, we have no additional new or experimental rules that will be recommended for implementation,” Barbee said. “This rule change respite should allow for everyone to continue to improve and perfect the application of our existing rules.”

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