The Pac-12 announced contact-limiting practice rules at its football media day on Friday. In a released statement, the conference outlined exactly what the new rules will mean.
A. NCAA Rules-except where expressly limited below, Pac-12 institutions shall continue to abide by the football practice rules and regulations outlined in the annual NCAA Division I Manual.
B. Definition of "Full-Contact"-The Pac-12 will define "full contact" as any live tackling, live tackling drills, scrimmages or other activities where players are generally taken to the ground. "Full contact" shall not include "thud" sessions or drills that involve "wrapping up" where players are not taken to the ground and contact is not aggressive in nature.
C. Fall / In-Season Practices-Pac-12 institutions shall only have two (2) full-contact practices per week during the football regular season ("regular season" being defined as the period between the first regular season game and the last regular season game or Pac-12 Champion-ship Game (for participating institutions).
D. Preseason Practices-For days in which Pac-12 institutions schedule a two-a-day practice, full-contact shall only be allowed in one practice (the other practice is limited to helmets and shoulder pads). If full-contact practices are scheduled consecutively around one of the two-a-day full-contact practices, only one of those practices shall be more than 50% full-contact. By way of example, if a morning session of a two-a-day practice is full-contact, that morning session practice or the preceding one-a-day practice would be limited to no more than 50% full-contact.
E. Spring Practices-Pac-12 institutions shall schedule spring practices so that of the eight (8) permissible full-contact practices, only two (2) of those full-contact practices occur in a given week. (NCAA rules define these eight (8) practices as practices involving "tack-ling".) This rule will be subject to instances where inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances have constricted or other-wise altered a previously finalized spring schedule that complied with this rule.
Student-athlete safety is one of the biggest topics currently trending in college athletics, and the Pac-12 appears to be taking the issue seriously. The conference first announced the plan after its annual meetings in early June, and it followed through on that promise Friday. In addition to the contact limitations, the Pac-12 is establishing a Head Trauma Task Force, which will study head trauma and attempt to "limit danger and exposure to student athletes."
No other conference has attempted to implement such changes. With more and more evidence mounting -- like Ryan Swope's abrupt retirement from the NFL -- that proves player safety is an issue that must be addressed, the Pac-12 should be commended for getting out in front and attempting to limit injuries.