By Mark Long/The Associated Press
DESTIN, Fla. — The Southeastern Conference is taking steps to learn as much as it can about concussions, ultimately hoping to make college sports safer for student-athletes.
The league announced Friday that it has appointed Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones to head a working group that will review available research, evaluate diagnosis and guidelines, look at standards of practice and bring recommendations back to the conference for further consideration.
“We’re all aware that issues associated with concussions sustained during athletic competition have become increasingly matters of concern both within our league and indeed at the national level,” Florida President Bernie Machen said.
The group will include two specialists who have expertise in head trauma. They will be associated with medical schools that are affiliated with SEC schools. The group also will include two physicians who serve as team doctors at SEC schools and two league athletic trainers.
“We think this is timely, we think it’s important and we are urging fast progress by this working group,” Machen said. “It’s time for us to step up and see what we can do together to deal with issue.”
The SEC has no standardized concussion policy and no universal guidelines for dealing with head injuries. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive acknowledged that an SEC policy could result from the concussion group’s work, but he doesn’t expect anything to be in place before this season.
“What we see it leading to is we want to make sure we are doing everything we can possibly do to protect our student-athletes,” Slive said.
Machen made it clear that the league is not reacting to what has happened in the NFL. More than 1,000 former players are suing the league, saying not enough was done to inform them about concussion dangers and not enough is done to take care of them today. The league has said any allegation it intentionally misled players is meritless.
“We’re focused on our own league and the injuries that we see and the concern that our member institutions have over these concussion-related issues,” Machen said. “This is about sharing information so that we can all do what’s best for his student-athletes.”