By Zac Ellis
The Pac-12 is launching a venture to focus on the health and safety of its students athletes, the league announced Monday. The effort will include limiting contact in football practices.
The conference and its CEO Group made up of university presidents and chancellors agreed to the “Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative” after last weekend's Pac-12 spring meetings. The initiative will kick off for the 2013-14 academic year.
“The health and well-being of our more than 7,000 student-athletes competing within the Pac-12 each year is of paramount importance,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair Ed Ray. “This new initiative is a great step towards taking advantage of the full resources of our research institutions for the benefit of our student-athletes.”
The Pac-12's release notes that while it is "impossible to eliminate all injuries," the league is committed to reducing injuries by employing new practices, studies and research. The initiative will include:
• Student-Athlete Health & Well-Being Research Program, where the Pac-12 will convene doctors and researchers from its member schools to share research on the latest developments in the areas of student-athlete health.
• Head Trauma Task Force to student the effects of head injuries on student-athletes.
• General reduction of contact in football practices. According to the Pac-12, the league "will look at guidelines around contact in practice to ensure that student-athlete well-being is being closely monitored, both in the amount of contact and in providing our student-athletes and coaches with ample opportunity to teach and learn the correct tackling methods during the spring and preseason."
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a release that his "athletic departments and coaches have been very progressive in this area and are deeply committed to advancing these efforts." This offseason alone, two Pac-12 players saw their careers cut short by injuries: Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes took a medical retirement in April following a bicep injury, while UCLA offensive guard Alberto Cid took the same route due to concussions.