SEC commissioner Mike Slive kicked off his conference's Media Days by pulling up to the NCAA's bumper and leaning on the horn. He pushed them about full-cost scholarships, expressed disdain with the archaic rules structure and showed disgust with the pace at which the governing body was moving.
He also made it clear that concussions are on his mind, and the NCAA needs to show more effort in helping protect the players playing the game. Slive mentioned the NCAA and how the organization must do a better job of spreading information between institutions in an effort to establish best practices for handling head trauma.
On Wednesday, while co-hosting The Drive on WFNZ with Taylor Zarzour, I got a chance to ask Slive to expand upon his thoughts with respect to concussions and the NCAA's role. The commissioner obliged, and the interview in its entirety can be heard here, but with respect to concussions he again hit on the NCAA:
We need the NCAA to take a leadership role. This is a national issue, it's about the game itself, it doesn't matter where it's played, it has to do with everybody. So, I was calling for the NCAA to take a very aggressive, national leadership role in this area.
Although Slive is not pushing more conference-wide best practices, he is doing something that we at Your Best 11 have been calling for.
He's putting pressure on the NCAA to set a standard across the board.
While conference level legislation would be welcome, the fact is that the concussion situation in collegiate football is about more than just protecting the Big Ten, the SEC or the ACC. It is about protecting players from the major conferences down through the ranks of Division III.
That is the NCAA's job. That is where, as Slive points out, the NCAA is failing.
They are not disseminating the research and findings about concussions throughout the member institutions. They are not making rulings on best practices such as impact monitoring or mandatory sit-outs for concussed players.
Those are the things that have to happen for the sake of college football as a whole, not just the school's that draw the biggest ratings on television.
Everyone deserves to be safe and cared for when they are flying around the field and playing the game. Big schools are implementing impact monitoring, some are going so far as to take hit counts for blows to the head. Smaller schools are being left behind, not just in on-field success, but in safety as well. The NCAA has to push to make sure that doesn't happen.
More push from the conference level is a must, but the NCAA has to work to spread safety precautions through all of its ranks. Get the information out, and more importantly, use its weight and use its financial resources to get the collegiate landscape on the same page.