SAN ANTONIO -- The NCAA's Power 5 conferences passed legislation Friday that ensures a school's medical officials have final say on when student-athletes with concussions or other injuries can resume playing.
The rule, approved during the second annual autonomy session at the NCAA convention, affirms the "unchallengeable autonomous authority" of team trainers and physicians.
"I believe it's the most important piece of legislation in the history of the NCAA," said Brian Hainline, the NCAA's chief medical officer.
The legislation takes medical decisions out of the hands of athletes, coaches and outside doctors. It mandates that a coach cannot have hiring and firing power over trainers and aims to mitigate concerns that trainers can face pressure from coaches on return-to-play decision-making.
"No one can challenge their authority," Hainline said.
"I believe it's the most important piece of legislation in the history of the NCAA." Brian Hainline, the NCAA's chief medical officer, on legislation passed giving team doctors and trainers final say on whether injured athletes can return to play
The Big 12 proposed the legislation. Texas women's athletic director Chris Plonsky does not expect the standard to be a "lane-changer" for most institutions, considering the current state of concussion and return-to-play protocols.
"Our students are other people's children, and if I was a parent, I'd want to know who makes that decision," Plonsky said. "It should be somebody with medical authority who determines and not anybody else."
Added SEC commissioner Greg Sankey: "We didn't need a rule to get there, but it's healthy to make that clear."
During its morning voting session, the NCAA autonomy group passed a resolution aimed at reforming the time demands on student-athletes during next year's session. Another proposal that passed will permit high school baseball players who get drafted to hire an agent or attorney for their contract negotiations without risking their collegiate eligibility.