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Monday, June 3, 2013
Scott: Less hitting in practices ahead

By Ted Miller

The most newsworthy part of a "Heath and Well-Being" initiative the Pac-12 announced Monday was the conference's intention to reduce contact in football practices.

From the news release:
Football Contact Reduction: The Pac-12 will codify into a formal policy the existing practices across the Conference as they relate to limiting contact in football practice. The final policy will be released at Pac-12 Football Media Day on July 26. Going forward, the Pac-12 will look at guidelines around contact in practice to ensure that student-athlete well-being is being closely monitored, both in the amount of contact and in providing our student-athletes and coaches with ample opportunity to teach and learn the correct tackling methods during the spring and preseason.

Commissioner Larry Scott joined a teleconference with reporters to discuss this and other issues that had been major topics during a series of summer meetings between coaches, conference officials and conference CEOs.

While Scott admitted, "You're not going to eliminate injuries from athletics," he made it clear the Pac-12 wants to do more to protect football players from head trauma injuries. Scott says the conference will limit full-contact days in practice to "less than what the NCAA permits," while the schools have their own "self-imposed limits."

Also part of the new initiative will be a "Head Trauma Task Force," which "will study head trauma and find ways to limit damage and exposure to student-athletes."

The details will be forthcoming. The only question will be whether or not limiting contact in practice will affect the quality of play. It could conceivably put conference teams at a competitive disadvantage if other conferences don't follow the Pac-12 lead.

When USC was first limited to 75 scholarship because of NCAA sanctions, coach Lane Kiffin significantly reduced the amount of hitting in practice, something he later cited as hurting the performance of his defense.

Other topics Scott discussed: