Big 12

Big 12 tightens concussion policy

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby The Associated Press

If an athlete in a Big 12 Conference game or practice shows concussion symptoms, the medical authority on site will make the call about further participation, the league announced on Wednesday.

“Our membership has developed a comprehensive diagnosis and management policy that asserts the unchallengeable authority of medical practitioners in overseeing the welfare of our student-athletes in this very important area,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a release by the conference.

Bowlsby said the policy, which begins immediately, goes beyond what was approved by the NCAA Autonomy Governance structure last month.

At that meeting, student-athletes on the committee stressed the importance of medical personnel making the final return-to-play decision, but that policy wasn’t adopted by the entire group of 65 power-conference schools.

The Big 12 made it league policy.

“(It) puts all associated protocols where they belong,” Bowlsby said, “in the hands of trained medical staff.”

And not coaches. According to a study by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2013, nearly half of major college football trainers who responded to a survey by the publication said they felt pressure from football coaches to return concussed players to action before they were medically ready.

Last season, Michigan quarterback Shane Morris was left in a game after suffering an obvious concussion. After being hit, Morris stumbled around but waved to the sideline to remain in the game. He stayed in for one more play before leaving.

Big 12 schools will be required to follow the NCAA’s 2014 Inter-Association Guidelines for Concussion Diagnosis and Management, which requires schools to have a physician-directed concussion management plan and the specific protocol for evaluation and management of a concussion.

According to the Big 12, an athlete who exhibits any signs or symptoms of a concussion should be removed from practice or competition and be evaluated by a medical provider with experience in concussion management.

A student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion will be withheld from action the rest of the day.

Big 12 schools will be required to submit an updated concussion management plan to the league office annually.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.