A former Georgia assistant football trainer who told the NCAA in an email that athletes returned to games after concussions said in an interview he was referring to opposing teams during his career and not anyone that played for Georgia.
Dean Crowell told the Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday night: “Let me be clear about that. It was not one of my athletes and it was not one of my athletes at UGA. It was just a personal observation I had seen during my career. …It wasn’t someone on a team at an institution that I was working at. It was an opponent.”
Crowell worked at Georgia during the 2007-09 football seasons. He was also an athletic trainer at North Carolina (2003-07), Rutgers (2001-03) and Dartmouth (2000-01).
Crowell’s name first surfaced in a report by The Washington Times as part of documents that raised questions about the NCAA’s handling of concussions. The newspaper obtained over 1,000 pages of internal NCAA documents filed in federal court in Chicago as part of a motion seeking class-action status in a lawsuit against the governing body’s handling of head injuries.
Crowell wrote about potential NCAA concussion legislation in a 2009 email in which he wrote that “we all know that there are times where athletes are returned to games with concussions. I personally have seen an athlete knocked unconscious and return in the same quarter in recent years.”
Crowell is now in physician assistant school at the Emory University School of Medicine.
“I don’t want to get into where it was and who it was,” he said. “I’m concerned about violating (patient privacy under) HIPAA for that athlete.”
An internal NCAA survey from 2010 found that nearly half of college trainers who responded to a survey indicated they put athletes showing signs of a concussion back into the same game, according to the Associated Press. Concussion authority Robert Cantu said it’s “well-settled in the scientific community that an athlete must never be returned to play on the same day after a concussion diagnosis,” according to the AP.
Crowell said that Georgia, under director of sports medicine Ron Courson, “is one of the leaders in concussion management. We had protocols and safeguards in place where that would never occur. …UGA is one of the leading research institutions for concussions and Ron is one of the leading figures in the health and safety of student-athletes nationally.”
Georgia’s sports medicine department held a conference last year on the management of sports-related concussions. Courson also assembled a presentation to the media with head trauma experts who work with the Athletic Association.
UGA athletes are educated on concussions at the start of each school year.
The NCAA has taken steps to protect student athletes from head injuries and player safety is among its core principals, the NCAA told the AP. The NCAA announced Friday it’s awarded a $399,999 grant to leading concussion researchers to help pay for a study in the long-term effects of head injuries in college athletes.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said last week that he has written to NCAA president Mark Emmert to share the view of conference presidents and chancellors that the NCAA must lead and organize a national effort on concussions. He called for further scientific research, determining and refining the best practices for care and prevention of concussions, disseminating information to NCAA members and continuing to review and revise playing rules.
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