The NCAA has been under plenty of heat lately.
While most of the criticism has revolved around the association's rules and the enforcement of those rules (or lack thereof), this recent column from the Huffington Post blasts the NCAA for not having adequate rules when it comes to concussions.
"In the world of big-time sports, the NCAA brings up the rear when it comes to brain trauma policy. Yes, even behind the National Football League. The NFL has received a lot of heat in recent years for how it has handled concussions -- most of it well deserved -- but the NFL's current policy in this area is superior to the laissez-faire approach of the NCAA."
"Despite all the research during the past decade on brain damage from concussions in sports -- particularly in football -- the NCAA does not yet have a comprehensive policy on the issue for its member schools, only "general guidelines." Those overarching recommendations weren't even developed until 2010, well after the serious long-term effects of concussions were known."
According to the NCAA's Compliance Manual, member schools should apply the following guidelines when dealing with concussions:
- Inform athletes about the signs and symptoms of concussions
- Remove athletes who show signs of a concussion from play
- Prohibit students from returning to play the same day they were initially injured
As Reed says, "That's it." Of course, schools and conferences can take their own measures to keep student-athletes safe. For example, the Pac-12 and Ivy League both limit teams to two full-contact practices a week.
But Reed, who's explained his stance on sports to Athletic Business readers in the past, isn't happy that the responsibility of protecting players falls on individual schools, rather than the NCAA.
"In effect, the NCAA has delegated the concussion issue to schools as a strategy to avoid any legal liability and potential financial losses - all at the expense of their student-athletes' health and safety. Meanwhile, the NCAA continues to rake in billions of dollars from television and other sources through its revenue-at-all-costs policies."
He makes some legitimate points throughout the article, even going so far as to call the lack of rules "barbaric."
The NCAA was originally formed in 1906 with the goal of protecting student-athletes. President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to "encourage reforms" to college football practices at the time.
Has the NCAA lost sight of its mission? Or are people like Reed being overly harsh? We'd love to see readers join the debate in our comments section.