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According to The University of Michigan’s lead sports neurologist, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the Wolverines won’t be involved in a joint partnership between the Big 10 and the Ivy League on the study of concussions in sports. Why?
Kutcher says one reason is that no one has contacted the team’s athletic program about it.
“I know of no other program other than Nebraska that’s participating,” Jeffrey told Business Insider. “It’s a bit confusing to where they exactly are in the process.”
Right now, it seems like the Big 10 is in the very beginning of the process. As we hit the heart of the collegiate summer break, the conference simply may not have gotten to contacting all the schools’ athletic programs just yet.
Nebraska, a school that has already agreed to conduct athletic research, is now leading the way to reaching out to other athletic programs, according to Kerry Kenny, the Big 10’s Assistant Director of Compliance. Kenny told Business Insider that Dennis Molfese, the director of Nebraska’s Brain Imaging centre, was in the process of contacting other athletic programs and asking them to participate in the joint study.
As of last week, Kutcher said that there were no signs the Big 10 “would engage with the athletic community.” That could obviously change over the coming days and weeks.
It’s clear that the Big 10 and the Ivy League want to do meaningful and important work in the study of concussions with the athletes at such a young age so they could track their progress over the coming decades. The schools in the Big 10 (and the University of Chicago) already have an academic and clinical research collaborative called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and there have been studies on concussions in athletic medicine as recently as last December.
Kutcher proposed the idea of a conference-wide study of athletes and concussions three years ago, but at the time the Big 10 “didn’t see urgency in studying athletes in this way.”
At some point after being rebuffed by the conference, Kutcher and Michigan became a lead school in another research group, the National Sports Concussions Outcome Study (NSCOS). The University of North Carolina, UCLA and the Medical College of Wisconsin are other participating schools that received a $400,000 grant from the NCAA in March to pursue research.
Kutcher said he’s received virtually complete participation from Michigan’s athletes in his voluntary concussion studies for the NSCOS. He also said that he’s inviting other schools to join the NSCOS, including Big 10 athletic programs.
The Big 10’s Kenny said that the conference’s aim is to pool the research already being done by the 20 schools that make up the Big 10 and Ivy League to “try to address research on a broader scale.”
The agreement between the conferences attempts, Kenny said, to commence “a longitudinal study of over 17,000 student athletes” and that this agreement would certainly not prevent other schools like Michigan from continuing their ongoing studies. These long-term studies would then be compiled and combined into a “large centralized data platform so that so all the individual schools can share data.”
Whether that includes Kutcher and the University of Michigan’s athletic program is yet to be seen. “We don’t want to prevent research, but collaborate,” Kenny said.
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