You are here

About the SSI

Since its inception in 2013, the SSI has worked collaboratively with NCAA membership, with the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, with medical and research experts, and with sports medicine and other medical organizations to develop inter-association consensus documents and educational resources to assist member institutions in their effort to provide for student-athlete health and safety.  The inter-association documents and educational resources augment the nine strategic priorities of the SSI.


To promote and develop safety, excellence and wellness in college student-athletes, and to foster lifelong physical and mental development.


To be the preeminent sport science voice for all student-athletes and NCAA member institutions, and to be the steward of best practices for youth and intercollegiate sports.

Strategic Priorities

The SSI is committed to serving and educating our student-athletes and membership. Through collaboration with leading medical and sports medicine organizations, student-athletes, our membership and key sport stakeholders, the Sport Science Institute has advanced the following nine strategic priorities:

Meet the SSI Team
Contact Us

Have questions or feedback for the SSI staff? 

SSI Inquiry Form >
Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports

The mission of the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) is to provide expertise and leadership to the Association in order to promote a healthy and safe environment for student-athletes through research, education, collaboration and policy development

Learn More >


Meet the Sport Science Institute Staff

Brian Hainline, M.D.

Senior Vice President; Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Brian Hainline is chief medical officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and  clinical professor of neurology at Indiana University School of Medicine and New York University School of Medicine.  As the NCAA’s first chief medical officer, Hainline oversees the NCAA Sport Science Institute, a national center of excellence whose mission is to promote and develop safety, excellence and wellness in college student-athletes, and to foster lifelong physical and mental development.  The NCAA Sport Science Institute works collaboratively with member institutions and Centers of Excellence across the United States.  For more than 25 years, Hainline has been actively involved in sports medicine.  He co-authored “Drugs and the Athlete”, and played a pivotal role in the development of drug testing and education protocols worldwide.  He has served on the New York State Athletic Commission and the USOC Sports Medicine Committee, and was a founding member of the executive committee of the American Academy of Neurology Sports Neurology Section, where he currently serves as vice chair.  Hainline has played a pivotal role in the development of health and safety standards in tennis, both nationally and internationally.  He was chief medical officer of the US Open Tennis Championships for 16 years, and then served as chief medical officer of the United States Tennis Association before moving to the NCAA.  He is chair of the International Tennis Federation Sport Science & Medicine Commission, and oversaw the rollout of international wheelchair tennis competition, a sport for which he wrote the rules of eligibility for both para- and quad-tennis. 

At the NCAA, Hainline developed, in partnership with the Department of Defense, the NCAA-DoD Grand Alliance, which includes the CARE Consortium, which is a multimillion-dollar study that aims to understand the natural history of concussion and neurobiological recovery in concussion.  The clinical study, with an advanced research component, is the largest  prospective clinical study ever conducted in the history of concussion.  The Grand Alliance also includes a Mind Matters educational and research initiative, the goal of which is to change the culture of concussion.  Hainline has taken a leadership role in addressing other pressing issues of student-athletes, including mental health, overuse injuries, alcohol and drug abuse, and sudden cardiac death.  He has developed key alliances with youth sport organizations, understanding that an effective sport model begins at youth and extends to college and beyond, with a premise that sport should be a model of wellness for life.

John Parsons, PhD, ATC

Managing Director of the SSI

John Parsons, a BOC-certified and state-licensed athletic trainer, has spent more than two decades studying, practicing and teaching sports medicine and athletic training. He works alongside Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline to address problems such as concussion, student-athlete mental health and improving systems that track sports injuries. Before coming to the NCAA, Parsons was a faculty member in the graduate athletic training program at A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona, for 17 years, spending the last five as the director of the program. He earned a bachelor's degree in sports medicine from Marietta College, has Master of Science degrees in exercise science from the University of Arizona and medical informatics from the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, and a doctoral degree in organizational communication from Arizona State University. Parsons’ previous patient care experience includes athletic training in the secondary school and clinical settings.

He is a past president of the Arizona Athletic Trainers’ Association and served on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. Parsons currently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation and the Athletic Training Education Journal, and is a current member of the BOC Standards Committee.  He is an adjunct associate professor in the department of kinesiology at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, and an adjunct clinical associate professor in the department of physical therapy and athletic training at the Boston University College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College.

LaGwyn Durden

Director of Sports Medicine

LaGwyn Durden joined the SSI in January 2018. In her role, Durden supports Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline and Managing Director John Parsons in leading the SSI sports medicine service line. In the oversight of this line, she will serve as the point of contact for the membership for a broad portfolio of topics including concussion, cardiac health, nutrition, overuse injuries and periodization. Prior to joining the NCAA, she served as associate athletics director at the University of Texas, overseeing healthcare delivery for Olympic Sports and coordinating women’s health and wellness programming. She also served as the athletic trainer for women’s track and field/cross country for 24 years.


A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Durden earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in exercise and sports sciences at the University of Florida and is a member of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association and the Southwest Athletic Trainer’s Association. Durden is a member of NATA’s Ethnic Diversity Advisory Council and the NCAA Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence.  She served as a member of the sports medicine staff for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and the Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine. She also chaired the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports


Mary Wilfert, M. Ed.

Associate Director of Prevention and Health Promotion

Mary Wilfert has administered the NCAA drug-education and drug-testing programs since 1999 and has worked to promote policies and develop resources to help student-athletes make healthy life choices.  She serves as liaison to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, the Association-wide committee charged with providing health and safety recommendations to the NCAA membership.  Wilfert has worked in the health education field for more than 35 years to empower individuals to make informed choices for lifelong health and success.

Wilfert received her Bachelor of Science degree in health education from the University of Dayton and her Master of Education degree in community health education from the University of Cincinnati.


Dawn Buth, M.A.

Associate Director of Strategic Communication and Education

In September 2015, Dawn Buth joined the SSI. Previously, Buth served as an associate director for the NCAA leadership development office. Her primary duties included the development and implementation of skill enhancement, professional development and career advancement programs and workshops for student-athletes, coaches and athletics professionals. Buth was the primary administrator for the Emerging Leaders Seminar, Career in Sports Forum, Pathway Program and the NCAA Postgraduate Internship Program.

Before joining the NCAA in September 2013, Buth served as the head women’s tennis coach at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she also received her master’s in public administration. Concurrent with her duties at George Washington, Buth served as vice president for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, Game Set Ghana, where she currently serves as senior consultant. Before assuming her duties at George Washington, Buth  worked as assistant women’s tennis coach at the University of Pennsylvania and played professional tennis on the Women’s Tennis Association tour, capturing more than 13 professional titles and becoming the No. 96-ranked player in the world. A 2002 graduate of the University of Florida, Buth was a four-year letter winner in tennis, earned four NCAA championship titles and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree in visual art and minor in environmental studies.

Jessica Gonzalez, MPH, RN

Assistant Director of Prevention and Health Promotion

Jessica Gonzalez joined the SSI in November 2016. Previously, she was a clinical nurse educator for Nurse-Family Partnership of Goodwill Industries. She has spent 10 years in nursing and health education of diverse populations. Gonzalez earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at University of Texas-Pan American in 2006 and her Master of Public Health from the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health in 2014. While obtaining her graduate degree, she studied healthcare in China and South Africa. Gonzalez currently serves as the 2014 Robert Wood Johnson Breakthrough Leader in Nursing, co-chair for the Indiana Center for Nursing Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and on the Indiana Public Health Association Policy Committee.


Cassie Langdon, M.S.

Coordinator of Strategic Communication and Education

Cassie Langdon joined the SSI in September 2015. She serves as editor of the SSI Newsletter and oversees the SSI’s social media presence. Langdon is also charged with helping develop a comprehensive communication and brand strategy to address all SSI documents and communications vehicles. Before joining the NCAA, Langdon held roles within collegiate sports information and healthcare communications. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Purdue University and her Master of Science degree in sport administration from Georgia State University.


Amanda Dickey

Assistant Coordinator

Amanda joined the SSI in January 2018. Her primary responsibilities include providing administrative support to the SSI managing director, as well as other SSI team members. She has more than 10 years of experience in clinical office administration and administrative support and has received a LEAN Six Sigma certification.