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Group Participation

NCAA Injury Surveillance Program is focus of new Division II task force

A new task force in Division II is looking to boost awareness — and ultimately, participation — in a long-standing NCAA data-collection program that informs decisions around student-athlete health and safety.

The task force is the brainchild of the Division II Management and Presidents Councils, formed after the groups learned during their spring meetings that just 6 percent of Division II schools are participating in the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program. The Association-wide program, which has existed in some form since 1986, relies on schools’ voluntary submissions to build a repository of data on student-athlete injuries and illnesses. The data is used by an array of committees, task forces and outside organizations that consider college athlete health and safety implications in their policy decisions.

For Winona State Athletics Director Eric Schoh, taking steps to assist the effort just made sense. “In today’s age of concussion and mental health and all kinds of injuries, we can never have enough data at our fingertips to see if we are doing things the way we should be doing them,” he says.

Schoh, a member of the Management Council, was quick to volunteer for the task force — in large part, he says, because he was unfamiliar with the program and eager to learn how his school could help. He joins five other members of the Management Council and one representative from the Presidents Council in the group. Over the summer, the members will brainstorm ideas for educating Division II members about the Injury Surveillance Program and increasing participation.

The program is run by the NCAA Sport Science Institute in partnership with the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, an independent nonprofit. It is designed to work with Datalys-certified Electronic Medical Records systems, which an estimated 70 percent of Division II schools already use on their campuses to report injury and illness data. Through that software, athletic trainers or physicians can take the extra step to share their data with the NCAA — a process that is estimated to take around 15-20 minutes per week, per sport.

Influenced by some of these challenges, low involvement is a theme across divisions. Among Division I Football Bowl Subdivision autonomy schools, 22 percent submit injury data, while 10 percent of Division I nonautonomy schools do. In Division III, 7 percent of schools participate.

But members of the task force are optimistic about progress in Division II. “The No. 1 thing we need to tackle is educating our institutions and conferences about this system,” says Lindsay Reeves, athletics director at North Georgia. “Then, it’s figuring out how to make entering data in the system as easy as possible because of time constraints.”

Reeves consulted with her school’s head athletic trainer last year when she first heard about the Injury Surveillance Program. She learned the department wasn’t submitting student-athlete injury data to the NCAA, but the system they used to record data internally was compatible with the NCAA program. With that knowledge, the athletic trainers began participating in the program.

Reeves hopes more schools will do the same.

“If we can do anything to reduce and prevent injuries, keep our kids active on the playing field, and create a better college experience for them mentally, physically and emotionally,” Reeves says, “that is paramount.”

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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