Experts: NCAA should mull NFL policy

Updated: December 5, 2009, 3:54 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has played eight games since suffering a concussion in late September -- and by all accounts has excelled.

Tim Tebow
Tebow

California running back Jahvid Best wasn't so lucky.

Tebow and Best illustrate flip sides of a problem the NFL has met head-on in recent weeks. At least two leading researchers believe the college game needs to consider following suit.

"Most universities have tried to put in place a more comprehensive program," Kevin Guskiewicz, director of the University of North Carolina's Sports Medicine Research Lab, told The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. "Some haven't reacted as quickly as others. That's when the NCAA needs to step in and evaluate it."

Best
Best

Best, who sustained a concussion after flipping over in the end zone and landing on the back of his head, will miss his third straight game Saturday night when the No. 19 Golden Bears face the Washington Huskies in Seattle.

Although some conferences and schools have developed their own guidelines, there is no overarching NCAA policy regarding head injuries.

"Sports-related concussions are often referred to as 'dings,' " begins the ACC's benchmark advisory, Current Concepts in Concussion. "It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a 'minor' head injury."

Duke's Joel Morgenlander, a neurology professor who worked with the NFL for three years studying concussions' effects, told The News & Observer the NCAA could do right by following the NFL's lead.

It's reasonable for the NCAA to say, 'We're worried about our players, too.'

-- Duke's Joel Morgenlander,
to The News & Observer

"It's reasonable for the NCAA to say, 'We're worried about our players, too,' " Morgenlander said.

Thanks to a policy enacted this week, a player in the NFL who gets a concussion won't be allowed to return to action on the same day if he shows signs or symptoms including an inability to remember assignments or plays, a gap in memory, persistent dizziness and persistent headaches.

The old NFL standard, established in 2007, said a player should not be allowed to return to the same game if he lost consciousness.

Best continues to be evaluated. The running back, who has rushed for 867 yards this season after finishing with 1,580 yards in 2008, briefly lost consciousness after his fall in the Nov. 7 game against Oregon State. He spent one night in the hospital with the concussion and sore back.

Best originally had targeted Saturday's regular-season finale as his possible return date. The Bears also will have a bowl game later this month.

Tebow's injury came before the Gators had a week off. In the two weeks that followed, he underwent post-concussion evaluations that included computer tests, reaction tests, eye-focusing tests, balancing tests, motion-sickness tests, MRI exams and CT scans.

He returned to lead Florida to a 13-3 victory at then-No. 4 LSU.

"I think it was humbling in a way, something that you have to be very careful with," Tebow said. "It's your brain. You don't want to have long-term effects. I want to be OK down the road for my family and everything, too, so that was something I wanted to be smart about."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.