The Big 12 is introducing a conferencewide policy that will limit its football programs to just two “live contact opportunities” per week, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced Monday as the league convened for its football media days at the Omni Hotel.
The policy of two contact days per week, a measure aimed at player safety, will include gamedays and is one fewer than the current national limit of three, Bowlsby said.
The announcement came as Bowlsby delivered a far-reaching and comprehensive state-of-the-conference address to reporters on the first of two Big 12 Media Days.
“The Big 12 Conference continues to take the lead in the area of player safety as the first conference to enact more restrictive contact polices than currently permitted,” Bowlsby said. “Our policy is a 33-percent reduction in the number of contact opportunities allowed under NCAA guidelines.”
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At the moment, NCAA guidelines define live contact practice as “any practice that involves live tackling to the ground and/or full-speed blocking.” A live contact practice can be conducted with players in full pads or half pads, in which a player wears shoulder pads and shorts.
The new policy comes as player-safety issues and concussion awareness have permeated the game of football in recent years. Bowlsby said the new policy had the approval of the conference’s coaches, and in many cases, programs were currently conducting just two contact practices per week.
According to the a release from the the Big 12, the new live contact policy applies to in-season practices and includes bye weeks.
“Limiting the number of live contact practices,” Bowlsby said, “and giving medical practitioners unchallengeable authority on return-to-play decisions unequivocally demonstrates the commitment of our membership to the health and safety of Big 12 student-athletes.”