Crowe speaks about NCAA role in football injury debate
by Al Muskewitz
When Jack Crowe was released as Jacksonville State’s football coach in November, he didn't think he'd be back on the field again, but he knew he'd be doing something connected with athletics.

Monday morning he found himself smack in the middle of a national debate — sparked by the president himself — that hits right at the heart of the game.

President Barack Obama hit a nerve with nation’s sporting public when, in comments to The New Republic that gained traction over the weekend, he said he “would have to think long and hard” about allowing any son he had to play football because of the current hard-hitting nature of the game.

On Monday, Crowe appeared in studio on CNN to comment on those comments.

Crowe wasn’t appearing on the network only as a former football coach. He spent two years as executive director of the Birmingham-based American Sports Medicine Institute. Three years ago, he testified before the Kentucky Legislature about football safety.

The president told the magazine he understood the violence of the NFL game because those decisions were made by adults being paid to do a job, but he was concerned about young and amateur athletes. He said the game might have to change so "fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much," and thought the NCAA could lead the way towards that change on the amateur level.

Crowe said the reach of the issue goes beyond the college game’s governing body.

“I don’t think the NCAA is the approach,” he said. “I think they have to have role in it, (but) the NCAA is a litigious body. This is an issue of coaches and medical support.

“I think there should be a new coalition of which the NCAA is a part. To say they should be a lead in this … they just rescinded five years of the rules they had because they didn’t think the rules (had an effect).

“There are organizations and coaching organizations who can come together along with the NCAA to make sure we reduce the risk out there with these college athletes.”

Crowe clarified his remarks while standing in a nearby Starbucks shortly after the TV appearance.

“Coaches and communities have to come together and have to have a constant bridge of best practices from the research and there needs to be ongoing research,” he said. “(The NCAA) needs to be a part of the coalition; they don’t need to be into this.

“They’re about making laws and enforcing laws. This is about actual execution of some best practices that come from the scientific community and professional community.”

Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.

© 2013