The Athletic Department will implement enhanced player-safety measures starting with Saturday’s football game at Rutgers.
Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced Thursday that U-M would have a certified athletic trainer positioned in the press box to better spot possible injuries. He also said the football program would add two-way radio communications to the traditional system of using hand signals for communicating player injuries.
Brandon said the new measures were developed by Darryl Conway, associate athletic director for student-athlete health and welfare, in collaboration with the team’s certified athletic training staff and team physicians from the U-M Health System.
“We place the utmost importance on the safety and welfare of our student-athletes,” Conway said. “Our system failed quarterback Shane Morris last week. We never want that to happen again for a student-athlete. We are confident in the new measures.”
This new approach is designed to provide immediate and clear communication between the certified athletic training staff and the coaching staff. Among the new guidelines are:
• Putting a certified athletic training professional in the press box. This certified athletic trainer will be responsible for maintaining a full view of the field of play and identifying any players who may need further evaluation by a medical team member. This certified athletic trainer will have access to the television video feed and will be able to communicate immediately and directly with medical team members on the sidelines.
• Adding two-way radio communication. Having radios at all times will be mandatory for the pressbox certified athletic trainer and several other members of the medical team to effectively and efficiently communicate during the game. Hard-line phone communication will be utilized as needed, with cell phones serving as a third layer of backup.
• Taking helmets from players. Once a student-athlete has been evaluated by a member of the medical team and is declared unable to continue playing in the game, or “out,” a member of the medical team will secure the player’s helmet.
Conway said the constructive conversations that have taken place this week involving the team physicians and the athletic training staff have been very supportive and helpful.
“We have an exceptional team of highly qualified certified athletic trainers and some of the nation’s top physicians working with our student-athletes. We are very fortunate to have this level of expertise at every football game,” Conway said.
He also reiterated the long-standing policy that all team physicians and certified athletic trainers have the unchallengeable authority to enter the field of play if they believe a player is injured or at risk and to remove a student-athlete from the field of play.