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Board gives $12.5 million more to concussion research

Study’s next phase to examine cumulative effects of concussions, exposure to repetitive impact

The NCAA’s top governing board unanimously approved $12.5 million in additional funding for the most comprehensive clinical study of concussion and head impact exposure ever conducted. The increased resources comes on the heels of the Board of Governors’ April adoption of a full health and safety agenda for the Association.

The board made its decision this week during governance meetings at UCLA for all three divisions.

“The continuation of this longitudinal study is an important step in the NCAA’s ongoing efforts to protect student-athlete well-being, on the field and off,” said G.P. “Bud” Peterson, board chair and president of Georgia Tech. “NCAA member schools are a critical component of these research efforts as the Association continues to take a leadership role, in collaboration with multiple key stakeholders, to improve the safety of athletes, now and in the future.”

The NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense launched its landmark alliance more than three years ago to enhance the safety of athletes and service members. The study is designed to provide a more accurate understanding of the natural history and neurobiology of concussion and repetitive head impact exposure across student-athletes in all NCAA sports and students at military service academies. More than 37,600 individuals have participated from 26 universities and four academies.

The next phase of the longitudinal study will examine the cumulative and persistent effects of concussions and repetitive head impact exposure.

The additional funding for the CARE Consortium study will in part support the continued enrollment of student-athletes and cadets, as researchers expect the cohort will continue to grow as the depth of advanced research increases dramatically in the next two years.

“The CARE Consortium is providing compelling information that will help shape policy and recommendations that improve student-athlete and cadet health and safety,” said Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer. “It’s important work and the additional funding will make a true impact on this historic, potentially groundbreaking study.”

Commission on College Basketball

The board affirmed its support for the work of the Commission on College Basketball, which it established with the Division I Board of Directors and President Mark Emmert to fully examine critical aspects of Division I men’s basketball.  The presidents expressed a commitment to act swiftly on recommendations from the commission.

Alcohol sales

The board also changed the Association-wide policy for alcohol sales at NCAA championships. Based upon favorable data received regarding fan experience and reduction in alcohol-related incidents at championships that were part of a pilot program allowing sales of beer and wine, the board modified its Association-wide policy.

Division II Presidents Council opted to keep its rule prohibiting alcohol sales at championships. The issue will be revisited in future Division III committee meetings.

The Division I Board of Directors asked the Division I Council to consider legislation that would allow beer and wine sales at some Division I championships final sites no earlier than the 2018-19 season.

All event sites must already be equipped to sell alcohol to the public during other, non-NCAA events. Alcohol sales would be governed by championship policies.

“Several of our Division I member schools are selling alcohol at their campus-sponsored, regular-season events,” said Eric Kaler, president at Minnesota and chair of the Division I Board of Directors. “Moving toward alcohol sales at championships only makes sense from both a fan experience and safety perspective.

If approved by the Division I Council members, legislation could become effective as early as the 2018-19 academic year.

Diversity and equity

The board approved the roster for the NCAA Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity. The committee reports to the board and works with the Committee on Women’s Athletics and the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee.


All presidents in attendance — members of the Board of Governors, Board of Directors and Divisions II and III Presidents Councils — received an informational presentation on the esports landscape. NCAA members continue discussions to better understand the NCAA’s potential role, if any, in the esports realm. The presidents have not set a decision timetable.