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Concussion Safety Protocol Management

This page includes information about the NCAA Concussion Safety Protocol Review Process.

This page includes information about the changes to the 2020 NCAA Division I Concussion Safety Protocol Review Process and certain updates to legislative and policy requirements pertaining to concussion management practices.  Specifically, schools should be aware of the following changes:

The Concussion Safety Protocol Review Process was initiated in January 2015, when the five Division I conferences with autonomy around student-athlete well-being matters passed concussion safety protocol legislation that built upon previous NCAA concussion legislation. The legislation stated that each Autonomy school must submit a concussion safety protocol to the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee – also created by the legislation – for review. The structure of Division I legislation also gives discretion to Division I non-autonomy conferences, or to their institutions at the discretion of each non-autonomy conference, to apply the autonomy legislation and opt into participation in the protocol review process.

In spring 2020 the NCAA Division I Council notified members about the waiver of certain reporting and submission deadlines identified in NCAA Constitution 3 which was intended to provide support and flexibility to those member institutions that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This waiver effectively removed the obligation of Division I autonomy schools under NCAA Constitution to submit concussion management protocols for review by the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee by May 1 of this year.

Despite the fact that this and many other legislative requirements related to submission and reporting deadlines have been relaxed or removed in response to the impact on schools resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, all member schools in all divisions still need to ensure that institutional concussion management practices are consistent with applicable legislative and policy requirements.

A portion of Division I Constitution (Concussion Safety Protocol) was updated in January 2020 to require that an institution’s Concussion Safety Protocol must be consistent with the Concussion Safety Protocol Checklist (Checklist). The Checklist is reviewed annually by the NCAA Concussion Safety Advisory Group to determine whether available research data and accepted industry practices may warrant revisions to its content. At its March 2020 meeting and based on the results of this annual review process, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports approved several updates to the Checklist. To facilitate and support member compliance with concussion legislation, CSMAS has also approved a Concussion Safety Protocol Template (Template) that includes all components of the Checklist and that may be customized by institutions to accommodate and reflect their individual needs and practices.

In addition to the Checklist updates, the Interassociation Recommendations: Preventing Catastrophic Injury and Death in Collegiate Athletes (Catastrophic Recommendations) contain content specific to concussion management. These recommendations were unanimously endorsed by the NCAA Board of Governors and announced as Association-wide policy under the Uniform Standard of Care Procedures in the summer of 2019. A copy of those materials can be accessed here.

We encourage all member schools to carefully review and understand the most recent updates to the Checklist, and related concussion management legislation, policies and guidance, and work with applicable institutional personnel to ensure any necessary adjustments to their concussion management practices are properly and timely implemented.

In the Resources box, institutions can find concussion-related resources regarding the creation and upkeep of concussion management plans. Included are the Concussion Safety Protocol Checklist, Template and Catastrophic Recommendations, all of which serve as guidance for the development and updates to concussion management practices at all member schools. Additionally, a frequently asked questions page has been created to assist institutions with the changes to the 2020 review process.