PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — The Ivy League will use an experimental rule this season to move kickoffs to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 20-yard line in an effort to reduce concussions and further promote the safety and welfare of its student-athletes.
The league announced the rule change Wednesday.
The goal of the experimental rule is to limit kickoff returns, which account for 23.4 percent of concussions during games despite representing only 5.8 percent of overall plays. The Ivy League will evaluate the concussion and kickoff return data after the season.
The request was made to the NCAA as a part of The Ivy League’s overall review of concussions, which began with football in 2010 and has included eight other sports to date (men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, wrestling, rugby).
It will only be used in conference games.
“This experimental rule change is another example of The Ivy League leading the nation in concussion prevention,” Robin Harris, the league’s executive director, said in a statement. “Our data showed us that kickoffs result in a disproportionate number of concussions and this rule will allow us to assess whether limiting kickoff returns will reduce the incidence of concussions.”
The league adopted another policy originating with the eight head football coaches to eliminate to-the-ground (“live”) tackling in practices during the regular season, which will also go into effect this year. Changing practice rules does not require NCAA approval.