The Ivy League presidents have approved new football practice rules aimed at curbing concussions, the league announced July 20. Under the guidelines, teams will be limited to no more than two full-contact practices per week, significantly lower than the NCAA maximum of five. In spring practice, Ivy teams will be limited to seven full-contact practices, a one-session reduction from the previous league limit of eight.
Princeton head coach Bob Surace ’90 told PAW that the changes are “a step in the right direction” because they give coaches enough time to practice tackling and teach technique. The limit will not significantly change Princeton’s practice schedule, he added: Last season, the Tigers regularly held two full-contact sessions per week.
An ad hoc committee of university presidents, head football coaches, administrators, consultants, physicians, and trainers evaluated available research on head injuries and drafted the new rules, which take effect this fall. Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim and Cornell president David J. Skorton, both medical doctors, served as co-chairmen. The committee’s report is available online.
The committee reviewed existing NCAA rules governing hits in games and did not recommend any changes. The rules “already provide a deterrent,” the committee wrote, and “very few plays in Ivy League games … resulted in penalties for significant hits to the head.” In the more than 13,000 plays from Ivy games in 2009 and 2010, 17 involved penalties for helmet hits, blows to the head, or hits to a defenseless player.
“We’re playing such a good brand of football, and such a physical brand,” Surace said. “For us to have such a low number of targeted hits – to me that’s an important thing.”