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Chancellor Jones to head SEC concussion study group

The Southeastern Conference recently announced that they will put together a team to research the effects of concussions in sports. The group will be led by Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones.
Cain Madden/The Daily Mississippian

The Southeastern Conference announced earlier this month that it will assemble a research group to study the effects of head injuries in college sports. Ole Miss will play a major role in the process as Chancellor Dan Jones will chair the research group. 
“(SEC Commissioner Mike Slive) and I talk on a regular basis,” Jones said. “So in one of our regular conversations he told me we (the SEC) were working toward establishing a working group on concussion and head injuries and talked to me about the potential for leading that and asked me to do it, and I was honored to be asked to do it and a privilege to do it.”  
While there has never been a real study done by any other conferences in college sports, the SEC felt a duty to step up and lead the charge. 
“When issues become active national issues, the Southeastern Conference is a leader in every way in college sports,” Jones said. “Our commissioner (Slive), in association with the presidents and chancellors, agreed that this was the right time for us to spend some time focused on this.”
The group will be charged with researching and evaluating sports-related concussions as it relates to the SEC. Jones said he wants to make very clear the focus of the research group.
“This working group is going to focus on fact finding,” he said of the group’s mission. “We’re charged with bringing information back to the league leadership. After we’ve given our report, then a decision will be made about whether there will be a change in policy.” 
The research group will include Jones, a physician, two specialists who are experts in the head trauma field who are associated with SEC medical schools, two team doctors from SEC institutions and two athletic trainers from SEC schools. At this time, no other positions have been filled besides Jones. 
Jones’ background is in medicine, but admittedly he is not well versed when it comes to head trauma. He has been reading and informing himself in preparation to lead this group.
“Chancellor Jones being a medical doctor; he’s, obviously got experience in the medical background,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said at the recent SEC meetings which took place this past month in Destin, Fla. “I think that’s where the SEC saw value in him as a leader in this role.”
Concussions have become a national headline in sports in recent years, notably in the NFL where there are over 1,000 former players suing the league. Those players are claiming not enough was done to educate them on the risks of concussions and that they are not being taken care of today. Jones said the forming of this research group now was not a knee-jerk reaction. 
“All of our conversations have focused on student-athlete safety,” Jones said. “We’ve not had any conversations around the legal aspects of this. Our motivations are simply and purely around safety of student-athletes.” While football will be the main focus of the study, all sports will be included in the research. Some of the selected sports many would not even think to include.
“That’s kind of been the trigger for this by talking about football, but we talk less about things like cheerleading. Cheerleading is a pretty serious sport,” Jones said. 
“Head injuries are part of almost every sport including cheerleading, certainly soccer and baseball. Almost any sport though has some associated head injury with it, so we are going to look broadly in every sport the SEC participates in.” 
On the heels of the SEC putting together this research group, Jones said he feels others will follow suit.
“The Big Ten has some work on concussions as well, and I suspect you’ll see some other conferences pick up on this,” he said. 
This week the Big Ten announced a partnership with the Ivy League. They will begin a co-sponsored, cross-institutional research collaboration to study head injuries in college sports, according to an article by NBC Sports. 
The SEC research group will pull together information and report their findings in June of next year and may be allowed additional time if necessary.