Athletic injury awareness task force

UNG is now part of a new NCAA Division II task force that seeks to boost awareness and future participation in a long-standing, data-collection program that informs decisions around student-athlete health and safety.

The task force is the brainchild of the Division II Management and Presidents Councils, formed after the groups learned during their spring meetings that just six  percent of Division II schools participate in the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program. The association-wide program, which has existed in some form since 1986, relies on schools’ voluntary submissions to build a repository of data on student-athlete injuries and illnesses. The data is used by an array of committees, task forces and outside organizations that consider college athlete health and safety implications in their policy decisions.

“The No. 1 thing we need to tackle is educating our institutions and conferences about this system,” said Lindsay Reeves, director of athletics at UNG. “Then, it’s figuring out how to make entering data in the system as easy as possible because of time constraints.”

The program is run by the NCAA Sport Science Institute in partnership with the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, an independent nonprofit. It is designed to work with Datalys-certified Electronic Medical Records systems, which an estimated 70 percent of Division II schools already use on their campuses to report injury and illness data. Through that software, athletic trainers or physicians can take the extra step to share their data with the NCAA — a process estimated to take around 15-20 minutes per week, per sport.

Influenced by some of these challenges, low involvement is a theme across divisions. Among Division I Football Bowl Subdivision autonomy schools, 22 percent submit injury data, while 10 percent of Division I non-autonomy schools do. In Division III, seven percent of schools participate.

But members of the task force are optimistic about progress in Division II.

Reeves consulted with UNG’s head athletic trainer last year when she first heard about the Injury Surveillance Program. She learned the department didn’t submit student-athlete injury data to the NCAA, but the system they used to record data internally was compatible with the NCAA program. With that knowledge, the athletic trainers began participating in the program.

Reeves hopes more schools will do the same.

“If we can do anything to reduce and prevent injuries, keep our kids active on the playing field, and create a better college experience for them mentally, physically and emotionally,” Reeves said, “That is paramount.”