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NCAA Catastrophic Sport Injury Reporting FAQs

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about NCAA Catastrophic Sport Injury Report legislation. To report a catastrophic injury or fatality, visit the online reporting portal at www.sportinjuryreport.org/NCAAReport.

What is NCAA catastrophic sport injury report legislation, and when did it go into effect?

NCAA Catastrophic Sport Injury Report legislation is an association-wide legislative mandate that went into effect August 1, 2014. The legislation requires all NCAA member schools to report catastrophic events experienced by student athletes on their campus.

Who should report student-athlete fatalities and catastrophic injuries?

Responsibility for reporting a catastrophic injury should belong to an individual, or team of individuals, who is most likely to be aware of a catastrophic event and have the necessary knowledge and authority to submit the report on behalf of the institution. In most cases, this individual holds the position of athletics health care administrator, athletic trainer, team physician, compliance administrator or director of athletics or risk manager; however, schools have the flexibility to designate the most appropriate individual on their campus based on their local policies and procedures.

How should institutions report catastrophic events?

An online portal has been developed to facilitate confidential and secure reporting of catastrophic events. Once submitted, the data will be managed by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with whom the NCAA has contracted to manage the reporting portal. The portal can be found at www.sportinjuryreport.org/NCAAReport.

What types and severity of injuries and/or illnesses are considered catastrophic and should be reported?

According to existing legislation, catastrophic events are categorized as the following:

  • Fatality
  • Nonfatal: permanent severe-functional disability
  • Serious: no permanent functional disability but severe injury.

Category No. 2 refers to injury or illness that does not result in death, but that leaves the student-athlete with permanent levels of disability. For example, a spinal cord injury may not result in death, but it may leave the student-athlete with permanent paralysis of one or more parts of the body.

Category No. 3 refers to injury or illness that is life-threatening, but that does not result in death and from which the student-athlete makes a full recovery. For example, a spinal cord injury that does not result in death, but that may produce temporary paralysis that eventually resolves.

What are additional specific examples of categories No. 2 and No. 3 injuries identified in the legislation?

Examples of the most frequent types of injuries that must be reported include:

For category No. 2, non-fatal events with permanent disability:

  • Traumatic injury to the spinal cord, brain, eye, or internal organs; skull fracture or spinal cord disruption.
  • Exertional injury resulting from athletic activity including personal fitness & conditioning activities resulting in: exertional heat stroke, rhabdomyolysis or exertional sickling with subsequent disability.
  • Cardiac events – all are included, even those not directly associated with physical activity: Sudden cardiac arrest with subsequent disability.

For category No. 3, serious injury, but without permanent disability:

  • Spinal cord injury with severe semi-permanent disability (temporary paralysis).
  • Heat stroke, rhabdomyolysis or sickling event, with subsequent full recovery.
  • Skull fracture with associated bleeding, with subsequent full recovery.
  • A sudden cardiac arrest, with subsequent full recovery.
  • Commotio cordis (blunt chest impact causing cardiac arrest), with subsequent full recovery.
  • Lightning injury, with subsequent full recovery.
  • Motor vehicle crashes, with subsequent full recovery.

What if the event is unclear and doesn’t fit neatly into any of the categories or guidance provided above?

When in doubt, report. You can also direct questions to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at nccsir@unc.edu or 919-843-8357 or to the NCAA Sport Science Institute at ssi@ncaa.org.

Does this mandate only apply to injuries / illness that occur during practice or games?

No. The mandate applies to all catastrophic events involving a student-athlete, regardless of the context in which the event happened.

Is an institution required to report catastrophic injuries or fatalities for student-athletes who have exhausted eligibility (e.g., football student-athlete in the spring of his senior year)?

Yes. Institutions are required to report catastrophic injuries or fatalities occurring during any academic year in which a student-athlete is enrolled.

How can I get a copy of my report?

After the report is submitted, institutions will have the option to save a pdf copy of their report. Institutions may also contact the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research directly to obtain a copy of their report at nccsir@unc.edu.

How will information on catastrophic events be stored?

All procedures for gathering information have been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (IRB #15-1394) and by the NCAA Research Review Board. All data will be stored on a secure portal hosted by Arivium. Any physical copies of data will be stored in locked file cabinets in a secure office at the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For more information about security of information and IRB approvals, please contact the NCCSIR at nccsir@unc.edu.

Does this proposal establish a deadline for the submission of data to the NCAA?

Institutions are encouraged to report incidents as soon as enough information is available to provide an accurate report. As a minimum, institutions are required to report on an annual basis.

Are there additional benefits of reporting for an institution?

An annual report will be prepared for the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. This report will provide unprecedented insight into catastrophic events occurring to NCAA student-athletes, and will inform policy decision and prevention strategies.

Does this proposal impact an injured student athlete’s ability to receive benefits through the catastrophic injury insurance program?

No.

Are all three divisions required to report catastrophic injuries and fatalities?

Yes.

Report a Catastrophic Injury

To report a catastrophic event through the online reporting tool, visit www.sportinjuryreport.org/NCAAReport.

To report a catastrophic event by phone, call the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at 919-843-8357.