The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 11, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: Nugent comments on NCAA concussion concerns

MORGANTOWN — You may have read that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has suggested new limits on football practice contact.

This comes in the wake of a rise in football concussions — not only at West Virginia University, but throughout colleges across the nation. There have been lawsuits in this serious matter.

The NCAA has not yet set specific rule changes through legislation. Instead, the body is suggesting that football teams have no more than two contact practices per week during the season.

That grew out of a safety concussion summit earlier this year. Practice limits were a serious recommendation released by the NCAA last Monday.

It certainly sounds to me like these concerns and recommendations are wise and worth serious consideration. Some colleges reportedly have come up with more stringent rules, including the Ivy League and Pac-12 Conference.

The Associated Press called it a growing chorus in college football, endorsing the idea of just two contact practices weekly.

Dr. Robert Nugent, a widely known neurosurgeon at WVU, has been familiar with football-related concussions since coming to Morgantown in the early 1960s.

I was fortunate a couple days ago to contact the good doctor to bring to his attention the latest national concern about concussions.

He traveled with the Mountaineer football teams to games on the road on a regular basis until 2013. He has also been on the sidelines at all home games over the years for any assistance needed from him.

Dr. Nugent, who is now 93, doesn’t plan to be on the sideline for the first time this season.

However, you’ll find him in his office at WVU Hospitals three mornings a week.

After being informed that the NCAA was suggesting only two contact practices a week, Dr. Nugent had this to say:

“Well, they could do that, but I’m not sure that it would end players from suffering concussions.

“There are varying degrees of concussions. Obviously, some are more serious than others. I’ve worked with a lot of different such injuries over the years.”

He added, “As I said earlier, there are varying degrees of concussions, and we (doctors) have rules that we go by in dealing with these injuries.”

Clint Trickett, WVU’s starting quarterback, played as an experienced newcomer last season. He reportedly suffered a concussion and eventually required shoulder surgery last January.

But he did not tell the coaches. Trickett definitely is a “tough guy” and can endure punishment.

Trickett played in eight games as a Mountaineer, seven as the starter. He played two years at Florida State and graduated with honors. He is now completing requirements for a master’s degree in athletic coaching education.

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