Health and Safety

NCAA Sport Science Institute updates resocialization guidelines

The NCAA Sport Science Institute, in collaboration with the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, has released Action Plan Considerations to help schools mitigate risks of COVID-19 spread as staff and student-athletes return.

2020-21 Concussion Management Updates: Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this Frequently Asked Questions document is to facilitate and support the efforts of NCAA member institutions to comply with applicable divisional concussion safety legislation. In early 2015, the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee created the Concussion Safety Protocol Checklist (Checklist) to encourage and support institutional compliance with industry best practices and applicable concussion legislation. Consistency with the Checklist is now specifically referenced as part of the requirements in each of the three divisional manuals. The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) recently approved an updated version of the Checklist and, while the NCAA has, through its governance process, relaxed many of the legislative requirements related to submission and reporting deadlines in response to the impact on schools resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, member schools still need to ensure that institutional concussion management practices are consistent with applicable legislative and policy requirements and should incorporate a thorough analysis of the recent updates to the Checklist and any other concussion-related legislative and policy changes as part of that process. Specifically, schools should 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 this Frequently Asked Questions document we have provided responses to some of the most anticipated membership questions related to those institutional review and update activities.

Q1. Have there been any legislative or policy updates related to concussion management since 2019?

A1. Yes. While there have been no changes to Division II or III legislation related to concussion management, a portion of Division I Constitution 3.2.4.20.1 (Concussion Safety Protocol) has been updated to require that an institution's Concussion Safety Protocol must be consistent with the Checklist. In addition, all three divisions are required to comply with the Interassociation Recommendations: Preventing Catastrophic Injury and Death in Collegiate Athletes, which contain content specific to concussion management and which 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.

Q2. Has the Checklist been updated since 2019?

A2. Yes. CSMAS approved updates to the Checklist at its most recent committee meeting in March of this year. These changes became effective immediately upon approval.

Q3. How is the Checklist updated?

A3. The NCAA Board of Governors designated CSMAS to prescribe the process and format recommendations related to applicable concussion legislation. The Concussion Safety Advisory Group (CSAG) was created by CSMAS for the purposes of providing focused review and advice around emerging developments in concussion science and policy, including those that may warrant an update to the Checklist and related policy and educational materials. CSAG meets annually in the spring to review and discuss available research data and accepted industry practices and how they may impact Checklist content. At its March 2020 meeting and based on input from the CSAG, CSMAS approved several substantive changes to the Checklist.

Q4. How do I know what has changed with the Checklist?

A4. The updated version of the Checklist can be accessed here. All updated content has been highlighted so that changes from the previous version can be easily identified.

Q5. Aside from the legislative and policy updates described in Item Q1 above and the updates to the Checklist, are there any other legislative or policy requirements related to concussion management that we should review or be aware of?

A5. Yes. While certain details of applicable concussion legislation vary depending on division, and each school should carefully review all legislative and policy requirements related to concussion management, all three divisions require that the following provisions be included as part of a school’s concussion management plan:

  • An annual process that ensures student-athletes are educated about the signs and symptoms of concussions. Student-athletes must acknowledge that they have received information about the signs and symptoms of concussions and that they have a responsibility to report concussion-related injuries and illnesses to a medical staff member;
  • A process that ensures a student-athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion shall be removed from athletics activities (e.g., competition, practice, conditioning sessions) and evaluated by a medical staff member (e.g., sports medicine staff, team physician) with experience in the evaluation and management of concussions;
  • A policy that precludes a student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion from returning to athletics activity (e.g., competition, practice, conditioning sessions) for at least the remainder of that day; and
  • A policy that requires medical clearance for a student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion to return to athletics activity (e.g., competition, practice, conditioning sessions) as determined by a physician (e.g., team physician) or the physician’s designee.

Q6. Who is responsible for assuring the implementation of applicable concussion management updates at my institution?

A6. Independent Medical Care legislation in all three divisions requires the designation of an Athletics Health Care Administrator (AHCA) who independently oversees the administration and delivery of athletics health care on behalf of the institution. While we anticipate that the creation and implementation of any necessary concussion management changes and practices may require input from a variety of institutional medical and other personnel, it is reasonable to consider these activities as part of the broader administration and delivery of health care at each institution.

Q7. What is the NCAA Concussion Protocol Template and why was it created?

A7. To facilitate and support member compliance with concussion legislation, CSMAS approved a Concussion Safety Protocol Template (Template) that includes all components of the Checklist. The Template is available for download in Microsoft Word format and allows schools to individualize certain areas of the document and to otherwise modify the Template to accommodate and reflect individual needs and practices.

Q8. Which institutions can access and use the Template?

A8. The Template is available to every NCAA member institution and may be utilized by institutional staff as an educational and compliance tool.

Q9. Where can I find a copy of the Template and does it reflect the most recent Checklist updates?

A9. Yes. We have revised the Template to reflect the most recent changes to the Checklist and the updated version of the Template can be accessed here. All updated content has been highlighted so that changes from the previous version can be easily identified.

Q10. Will there be Checklist changes in the future?

A10. The NCAA Sport Science Institute (SSI) will continue to work with CSMAS and the corresponding CSAG at least annually to identify and review information that may inform recommendations about future Checklist changes.

Q11. How does the Checklist and other legislative and policy requirements relate to the certification requirement arising from the Arrington settlement?

A11. While many of the member obligations in Section IX.A of the Settlement Agreement are similar to or overlap with certain existing NCAA health and safety legislation, policies and guidance materials, each set of obligations is distinct from and, in some instances, different from the other. Compliance with one set of obligations should not be deemed to automatically or entirely satisfy compliance with the other. Therefore, it is important to consult with school legal counsel and other risk management staff as necessary to fully understand these differences and to evaluate your institutional practices and compliance with respect to the member obligations as they relate to the Arrington matter and applicable NCAA legislation, policy and guidance. Additional detailed information about institutional obligations related to the Arrington matter, and the differences between those and NCAA legislative requirements, has been provided to all member institutions by email in the form of two Frequently Asked Questions documents, which can be found here.

Q12. I have a question not covered here. Who can I contact?

A12. If you have reviewed the content of this FAQ and cannot find the answer, please email the Sport Science Institute at: ssi@ncaa.org.

Additional Considerations for Division I Schools

Q13. Are Division I autonomy schools still required to submit a concussion management protocol for review by the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee?

A13. No, not at this time. As part of a broader effort to provide support and flexibility to member institutions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee decided to waive reporting and submission deadlines identified in Constitution 3 for active Division I member institutions, as needed (e.g., sports sponsorship and demographic form, health and safety survey, concussion safety protocol). The waiver effectively removed the obligation of Division I autonomy schools under Constitution 3.2.4.20.1 to submit concussion management protocols for review by the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee by May 1 of this year. This information was sent to impacted member schools by email late last month stating that institutions may work with NCAA staff to establish appropriately revised deadlines. However, due to the continued uncertainty around the timing of return to campus activities and the recognition that these timelines will likely vary from institution to institution, a new protocol submission deadline has not been identified at this time. If a new 2020-21 submission deadline is established, we will communicate that information to impacted institutions well ahead of time.

Q14. If the May 1 protocol submission deadline has been waived, what is the new deadline for Division I autonomy schools to submit their institutional protocols for review?

A14. The 2020 submission deadline has been waived. Due to the uncertainty around the timing of return to campus activities and the recognition that these timelines will likely vary from institution to institution, a new protocol submission deadline has not been identified at this time. If a new submission 2020-21 deadline is established, we will communicate that information to impacted institutions well ahead of time.

Q15. Can my institution utilize the Template that was created to conform to the updated Checklist?

A15. Yes. The Template may be used by every NCAA member institution as an educational and compliance tool.

Q16. My institution submitted its protocol last year for review and the Concussion Safety Review Committee confirmed that it was consistent with the Checklist. Do we need to do anything this year?

A16. Division I Constitution 3.2.4.20.1 (Concussion Safety Protocol) has been updated to require that an institution's Concussion Safety Protocol must be consistent with the Checklist. Because the 2020 Checklist includes material updates, you should carefully review these changes and other relevant legislative and policy requirements and work with applicable institutional medical and other staff to identify and incorporate any necessary adjustments to your concussion management protocol and practices.

Q17. I understand that the May 1 submission deadline has been waived; but can we still submit our updated concussion protocol to the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee for review and feedback?

A17. No. Due to the travel and other resource restrictions and impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, neither the Concussion Safety Protocol Committee nor its designated subcommittee that has historically reviewed Division I non-autonomy opt in submissions will be convening for or conducting protocol review activities at this time. However, the NCAA SSI staff is committed to providing membership with all of the tools and information necessary to identify applicable updates to concussion management practices resulting from the recent Checklist changes and will work, in conjunction with CSMAS as applicable, to respond to all membership questions on the topic. Specific questions about the Checklist or the recent updates should be directed to ssi@ncaa.org.

Q18. I understand that the protocol submission deadline has been waived. Do we still need to sign the annual Compliance Certification Form?

A18. Yes. Division I Constitution 3.2.4.20.1-(g) requires that a written certificate of compliance signed by the institution’s AHCA be included in the institution’s concussion safety protocol. We recommend that the signed form is kept on file in the office of the institution’s AHCA along with a current copy of the concussion safety protocol and other concussion management materials.

Q19. Is there a specific Compliance Certification Form that my AHCA needs to use to meet the legislative requirement?

A19. No. However, to facilitate and support member compliance with this requirement, the NCAA has developed a standard Compliance Certification Form. A blank copy of the form can be accessed here. We recommend that your AHCA print, sign and keep the form on file in his or her office along with a current copy of the concussion safety protocol and other concussion management materials.

Q20. How do I know if my institutional protocol was reviewed as part of the 2019 process and whether we received any related feedback?

A20. If your institution participated in the 2019 Concussion Safety Protocol Review Process, feedback would have been provided in the form of a letter addressed to your institution's athletics director, AHCA, conference commissioner and senior compliance administrator. Any inconsistencies between your protocol and the then current version Checklist would have been identified and described as part of that feedback communication. If you are unable to locate a copy of this communication and are unsure of your 2019 submission or review status, you can request that information by emailing ssi@ncaa.org.

COVID-19 Advisory Panel roster
Meet the people behind the NCAA's COVID-19 Advisory Panel

In early March, NCAA leadership started planning to create an independent advisory panel to help inform the Association on the emerging COVID-19 virus. There would be evolving information to keep track of, complex questions and tough decisions to be made. The idea was to create an expert team made up of diverse perspectives that could keep NCAA membership informed on the most up-to-date information around this emerging virus, and provide recommendations based on that information.

COVID-19 and Mental Health

COVID-19 has caused disruption to everyone. It is important to be aware of the potential negative impact that a crisis can have on our mental and physical health, often because of a breakdown in self-care. The NCAA Sport Science Institute will be developing webinars and outreach recommendations with the NCAA membership. The purpose of this memo is to provide resources and recommendations that may be helpful now.

General Resources

The CDC webpage on managing anxiety and stress provides a practical overview of self-care and resources. The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides a comprehensive information and resource guide that addresses self-care and community/national resources.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration tip sheet answers questions about COVID-19, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

Daily Strategies

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends daily strategies for self-care and awareness. Following is a summary of general recommendations:

  • Space. Create a structured, dedicated work environment, and include regular patterns of self- care.
  • Routine. Try to maintain a routine that reflects your normal day routine, including how you dress and structured breaks for lunch and mini-breaks.
  • Activity. Regular exercise and mindfulness activities are key during times of crisis. Exercise and mindfulness activities help mitigate depression and anxiety while improving cognition and confidence. Develop a daily routine for both, even if this is as simple as a 15-minute walk and/or quiet time with deep breathing.
  • Time and Energy Management. Be mindful of over- or under-working. Try to structure your daily work in a way that mirrors your normal workplace hours. In addition to time management, be aware of the way in which you eat, self-talk, and communicate with others. Self-compassion and self-care provide stability and confidence.
  • Accessibility. Develop ways in which you are accessible to colleagues, friends and family.
  • Face Time and Connectivity. Humans need to feel and be connected. Utilize video tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Facebook and WhatsApp to connect visually.
  • Resources. Map out your important resources, ranging from daily necessities to emergency management.
  • Support. The National Alliance on Mental Health Illness website provides a comprehensive guide to national and local resources. Know that there is help when needed.

Athletics health care providers and athletics staff should forward this message to all strength and conditioning coaches and other personnel who oversee student-athlete exercise and strength and conditioning sessions.

NCAA national office operations during COVID-19

Due to the evolving COVID-19 public health situation, the NCAA national office will suspend normal building operations in Indianapolis from Wednesday, March 18, through at least Friday, April 10. All other operations will continue as the...

NCAA President Mark Emmert's statement on limiting attendance at NCAA events

The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel . Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to...

Statement from the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel on NCAA events

The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for...

What NCAA members need to know about COVID-19

Member schools have the primary responsibility for ensuring that actionable plans are in place to guide the local response to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 among school personnel or a related exposure to the virus at an on-campus event. Athletics personnel should reach out to campus health care leaders at their respective school to safeguard the well-being of student-athletes, employees and fans attending athletics events.

If campus staff members have reason to believe that someone associated with the athletics department shows symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they should immediately notify the personnel on campus responsible for coordinating with local and state health officials, including public health departments.

When members are engaging with the campus health crisis leadership team about issues that may be specific to their athletics department, such as the proximity of student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and other medical personnel to one another, here are topics to discuss:

  • Guidance to athletics departments to communicate the policy to athletics personnel, including student-athletes.
  • Confirmation of procedures athletics staff members should follow to notify campus leadership of a suspected case or exposure to COVID-19, so appropriate governmental notifications can take place as soon as possible.
  • Roster and contact information of individuals assigned to the school’s action or response team charged with responding to medical emergencies or local public health crises.
  • Contact information for local and/or state health departments so athletics staff members can access resource materials.
  • Implementation of a campus policy regarding the triage and clinical management of individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • NCAA guidance on medical disqualification as found in the NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook (page 34).
  • Coordination of athletics events with campus leaders and local and/or state health departments if there is a suspected outbreak of COVID-19 in the community.

More Information

For more information on the coronavirus, visit the CDC’s coronavirus page. CDC guidance on clinical signs and symptoms and infection prevention and control recommendations are available here.

As with all information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that may impact the well-being of student-athletes, the NCAA Sport Science Institute encourages athletics departments to carefully review these materials with applicable institutional health care providers and other relevant campus personnel. They should implement any appropriate risk-mitigating initiatives.

Statement on COVID-19 and NCAA championship events

The NCAA continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events. We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and...

NCAA statement on COVID-19 and sporting events

NCAA member schools and conferences make their own decisions regarding regular season and conference tournament play. As we have stated, we will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public health guidance available...

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