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The Big Ten announces new comprehensive concussion policy

Concussion protocols were brought to the forefront of the football conversation when the Buckeyes lost one of their own seemingly to the outcomes of multiple injuries; now the Big Ten is hoping to change the conference climate on the matter.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, concussions, and what is done to prevent and heal them, is always a focus among football fans and families; this issue was revisited after the sad discovery of how concussions may have played into the much-to-soon passing of Ohio State's Kosta Karageorge.

The Big Ten announced today a new set of protocols to ensure the safety of their student-athletes. "The concussion protocols will move from best practices and minimum requirements for schools to regulatory standards by the conference."

One of the biggest changes include an independent, neutral athletic trainer in the replay booth. These new trainers will have their own monitor and the ability to contact the on-field officials directly should they have concerns. Post-concussion handling by teams, coaches and trainers will also be more closely scrutinized with steeper penalties for those willing to put the teams interest ahead of the injured player.

The Big Ten has seen its fair share of controversy on this topic following Brady Hoke's handling of Shane Morris's concussion earlier this season; despite Morris displaying all the obvious signs of a head injury, Hoke and the trainers let him stay on the field and play the remainder of the game. This incident played out in front of the nation, as Michigan's former athletic director, Dave Brandon, was in-part asked to resign due to their handling of the situation.

As a conference of innovation for concussion protocol standards, the Big Ten is hoping that upping the ante should encourage other schools and conferences to adopt the same safety procedures.

The full release is below. We applaud any effort to help make football safer and to improve health outcomes for student athletes.

The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) held its annual December meeting in Indianapolis on Sunday, December 7, and took another step toward improving student-athlete welfare when it approved a conference recommendation to establish enhanced concussion protocols. 

The concussion protocols will move from best practices and minimum requirements for schools to regulatory standards by the conference. In addition, the COP/C unilaterally adopted the establishment of an independent neutral athletic trainer in the replay booth with their own monitor and the ability to directly contact officials on the field. The independent neutral athletic trainer will be in addition to the continued presence of on-field doctors and athletic trainers from each institution.

The enhanced concussion protocols will be incorporated by reference into the existing conference-wide concussion management policy and will include reporting requirements, disciplinary action for non-compliance and a higher level of accountability for conference member institutions.

The adoption of enhanced concussion protocols is the latest step by the conference to further ensure the safety of student-athletes. In May 2010, the Big Ten became the first conference to establish a conference-wide concussion management plan for use by conference institutions. In April 2011, the Big Ten and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) conducted the first of a series of head injury summits at the conference office, with 40-plus attendees across several disciplines. In June 2012, the Big Ten and Ivy League, in conjunction with the CIC, announced plans to engage in a co-sponsored, cross-institutional research collaboration to study the effects of head injuries in sports.