B1G launches concussion research initiative

CHICAGO -- The Big Ten is bringing together its brainpower to help gather more information about the effects of concussions in sports.

Commissioner Jim Delany announced Wednesday that the league members will launch a research initiative about how head injuries affect athletes in all sports. The Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the Big Ten's internal academic consortium, which includes all 12 sports members and the University of Chicago, will manage the project and the research efforts.

"We basically lack across the country great longitudinal information," Delany said. "So we're trying to organize ourselves in a way to begin to develop that information. We've got 9,500 athletes [in the Big Ten], so what that is over a four year period is 40,000 student-athlete years. We're having important discussions with other major research institutions, the presidents in some of those other conferences, are determining whether or not they want to join with us in this collaboration."

In early 2011, the Big Ten began discussing the idea of pooling its resources -- the league is filled with major research institutions, top hospitals and noted doctors and scientists. The next step is to gain funding from organizations like the National Institute of Health.

"In addition to trying to work with the NFL and NCAA rule committee members, and our officials and our coaches," Delany said, "we feel that we are uniquely positioned because of the research that occurs on our campuses, not only in the hard sciences but the social sciences because of the placement of our doctors and trainers having been together for a very long time.

"It's a beginning of a long journey, but we're hoping 25 or 30 years from now that the discussions we're having now, if we're able to get funding from any number of sources, can provide the long-term research and information to help guide decisions."