Part of the NCAA’s core mission is to provide student-athletes with a competitive environment that is safe and ensures fair play. While each school is responsible for the welfare of its student-athletes, the NCAA provides leadership by establishing safety guidelines, playing rules, equipment standards, drug testing procedures and research into the cause of injuries to assist decision making.
The Committee on Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports serves to provide expertise and leadership to the NCAA in order to provide a healthy and safe environment for student-athletes through research, education, collaboration and policy development. The committee is made up of 20 members who serve four-year terms, each of which comes from medical, administrative, legal, coaching or student-athlete backgrounds. View the current roster here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Exertional Heat Injuries (EHI)?
EHI refers to serious injuries caused by heat, which include heat stroke, heat exhaustion and muscle cramps.
How can I prepare for the hot and humid conditions?
Prevention of heat illness begins with gradual acclimatization to environmental conditions. Student-athletes should gradually increase exposure to hot and/or humid environmental conditions during a minimum period of 10 to 14 days.
When does heat stoke most likely to occur?
Exertional heat stroke (EHS) has the greatest potential of occurrence at the start of preseason practices and with the introduction of protective equipment during practice sessions.
What should I watch for to prevent heat illness?
You should watch out for athletes who are experiencing muscle cramping, decreased performance, unsteadiness, confusion, vomiting, irritability, pale or flushed skin and a rapid or weak pulse. Symptoms can also include high body temperatures, nausea, headaches, dizziness, unusual fatigue, sweating has stopped, disturbances of vision and fainting.
What should be done if someone is suffering from heat illness?
First aid response should be implemented immediately, including the removal of all equipment and moving the student-athlete to a cool, shaded environment. Fluids should be given orally, and core temperature and vital signs should be taken. The student-athlete should be cooled with iced towels, and if necessary a team physician should replace body fluids through the use of an IV. Although recovery can occur rapidly, the student-athlete should not practice or compete for the remainder of the day.
Being active in hot and humid conditions poses special concerns. Heat stress and resulting heat illness is a concern in these conditions. Although deaths from heat illness are rare, exertional heat stroke is the third-leading cause of on-the-field sudden death in athletes. Intense exercise, hot and humid weather and dehydration can seriously compromise athlete performance and increase the risk of exertional heat injury. The risk of sudden death is highest when athletes begin any new practice period, especially within the first few days. And sport injuries can be three times higher during the preseason than in the regular-season practice periods. Conditioning sessions are also a higher risk activity than the normal sport drills and skills sessions. Constant surveillance and education are necessary to prevent heat-related problems.