The Pac-12 became the second Division I conference to limit full contact practices, citing concerns about student-athlete safety. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was one of many in attendance at Pac-12 Media Day to address safety concerns moving forward in the conference.
The major discussion point for nearly every coach in attendance was players’ safety, specifically spearing charges and practice regulations throughout fall. Scott said the guidelines “struck a fine balance between staying healthy and staying sharp.”
In essence, the new guidelines announced at Pac-12 Media Day provide limitations on the frequency of contact in practice, time for student-athletes to recover from full-contact practices, and an environment in which coaches can teach student-athletes the core fundamentals of football.
“These guidelines give coaches the ability to teach players the proper football technique and mechanics on the one hand,” Scott adds, “While fielding competitive teams week‑in, week‑out and keeping in mind the long‑term of our student‑athletes.”
College coaches around the country have been hitting less and less because of injury concerns. And coaches in this conference are all on-board with the changes.
“I like that the Pac-12 is taking steps to ensure player safety across the board,” said Cal Berkeley Head Coach Sonny Dykes.
The NCAA is facing a two-year old lawsuit that is seeking class-action status. With that in mind, the Pac-12 becomes the second conference (after the Ivy League) to formally limit full contact on the practice field, a unanimous decision that will make an immediate impact across conference lines.
Among major safety concerns, the use and execution of full contact practices will be among the major changes this fall. The Pac-12 defines full-contact as “any live tackling, live tackling drills, scrimmages or other activities where players are generally taken to the ground,” according to paperwork filed by the conference.
If full-contact drills are conducted around a two-a-day, only one of those shall be more than 50-percent full contact. Interestingly enough, this comes right at a time where players begin the most physically demanding time in collegiate athletics.
The Trojans are one of many of the Pac-12 schools set to open camp on August 3rd. While the USC program may limit contact for reasons of depth, other coaches also want to keep players healthy.
“I think the new practice guidelines are a real good idea,” said Oregon State head coach Mike Riley.
Despite the optimism from coaches, athletic directors and doctors, some players are concerned about the repercussions of committing illegal hits in the new look college football.
Recent rulings have declared plays like Jadeveon Clowney’s crushing hit against Michigan during last year’s Capital One Bowl as illegal. This season, plays like that would lead to an immediate ejection.
“Being able to get ejected on one play is rather scary,” said Cal linebacker Nick Forbes at Media Day.
While the players may not be too fond of it, the Pac-12 is moving forward with its student-athlete health and well-being research program, leading the way in innovative head-trauma research in all of collegiate athletics.
For the full brief surrounding the Pac-12 health and safety initiative,click here .