Foundation Updates

Foundation Updates

2024 NCAA Sports Science Institute APPLE Conferences

This year, we spoke at the APPLE Institute’s three national conferences in CA, VA and in FL. The APPLE Institute, which is aligned with the NCAA Sports Science Institute, promotes student athlete wellness and substance misuse prevention and invites student-athletes from all 3 divisions as well as athletic administrators/trainers/coaches from schools.

Our presentation “Taking Action on Medical Amnesty: Recommendations for Effective Implementation of Medical Amnesty Policies within College Athletics” was well-attended and received positive feedback. Many student-athletes recognized the differences in the campus policy vs the policy that pertains to them as an athlete. They felt empowered to raise awareness of medical amnesty and engage with the athletic administration on instituting a policy. We held interactive discussions with student-athletes who unfortunately still don’t trust that they would have Medical Amnesty protection as a non-athlete student does AND they still see their coaches as the main barrier to implementing and honoring Medical Amnesty within athletics at their schools.

Since our first presentation to student-athletes at APPLE in 2020, we have noticed an increased awareness of Medical Amnesty as well as an improved culture of care among student-athletes. This is great news and very reassuring that change is happening; however, we believe there is more progress needed around the barriers to calling for emergency help and for both administrators and college coaches to honor a medical amnesty policy.

“Content Comparison of Campus Medical Amnesty Policies”

GracieLee Weaver, PhD published the research sponsored by our Foundation to examine how Medical Amnesty policies differ across college campuses. Across a random selection of 50 institutions, the results were as follows:

  • 40% of policies did not include a purpose statement
  • 42% of policies had no mention of how to use the policy
  • 48% did not mention restrictions on the use of amnesty
  • 32% did not mention follow-up actions
  • 24% of policies mentioned extending amnesty to additional person(s) present

In conclusion, many policies lacked detail, highlighting the need for guidelines and best practices to develop Medical Amnesty policies. It additionally influenced our Delphi study to research the barriers to implementing Medical Amnesty on campuses. 

Coach Data Results

Survey Data Results from 70+ NCAA Coaches across all 3 Divisions:

62.5% were not familiar with Medical Amnesty Policies

79% stated that their athletic departments had alcohol policies specific to student-athletes

60% had never spoken about their institution’s Medical Amnesty Policy with their student-athletes.

54% of their teams had alcohol use policies different from those imposed by their athletic department

43% did not know whether or not their athletes would face consequences if they sought help during an alcohol-related emergency

Summer 2021 – Spring 2023: Delphi Study Results and Next Steps

In the summer of 2021 and in partnership with UNCG’s Center for Athlete Health & Wellness and the Prevention Strategies Initiative, we had an agreement with the NCAA to co-write the new athlete Tool Kit to include Medical Amnesty which required us following through with a Delphi consensus study.

A Delphi Study brings together people from many points of view (student-athletes, coaches, ADs, trainers, college administrators and public health professionals) and identifies the barriers to implementing medical amnesty policies in college athletics as well as the perceived needs and strategies for improving implementation of such policies. 

To date, we have published one paper, have another under review, and have one in the works. The most recent publication in the works is related to the results of the Delphi study which led us to develop recommendations for collegiate athletics and colleges to address medical amnesty. Ultimately, we want collegiate athletics departments to follow the recommendations and implement best practice strategies for medical amnesty.

As of today’s writing, the NCAA has actually stopped distributing the Tool Kit and, as a result, we are currently exploring next best action steps to promote the recommendations in order to make change for students nationally and influence Student Health and Wellness across college campuses.

December 2020: Key Highlights from our Research to Date

We have distributed a number of surveys and collected data from over 10,000 college students representing both non-athletes as well as college athletes. We have also recently distributed a survey to college coaches at over 400 NCAA colleges/universities across all three NCAA divisions to gather data about coach awareness and communication regarding amnesty policies as well as how bystander behavior is handled for student-athletes.

Key highlights from our research efforts to date:

Nearly 80% of students don’t know what Medical Amnesty is nor know if their school has a policy in place even after just having been trained on it at their college orientation.

Nearly 40% of students are unsure if a Medical Amnesty Policy would even protect them if they called for help for a friend in medical need.

Athletes are 3.8 times less likely to call for help than a non-athlete.

Nearly 80% of student-athletes surveyed reported having team-specific rules or consequences if they called for help for a friend in medical need even with an amnesty policy in place.

More than 25% of student-athletes reported having been in a situation where they thought about calling for help and the average number of times students had been in this kind of situation was 5.2.

Only 20% of student-athletes had called for help for a peer.

October 2020: “Impacts of Medical Amnesty Policies Among Collegiate Student-Athletes” presented at the American Public Health Association 2020 Annual Meeting

Our team, IPAHW and Prevention Strategies, presented research to an audience of mostly public researchers and practitioners our current research related to student-athletes normative beliefs about what their coach and teammates think about calling for help. The importance of this presentation was to not only share our research but to raise awareness amongst public health experts of an area that has not been addressed or researched. Again, change can only happen if we continue to raise awareness of these critical matters so that we gain the momentum for better implementation of prevention strategies and policy change.

June 2020: “Are Students Aware of Campus Amnesty Policies and Protections They Offer?” presented at Research Society on Alcoholism Annual Scientific Conference 2020

Our team, IPAHW and Prevention Strategies, presented research at the annual RSA Conference. This research is the result of a survey that we funded and was distributed thru My Playbook, an NCAA Sports Science initiative, at college campuses. This study looked at student-athletes as a sub-group who tend to engage in more risky drinking behaviors and could benefit from the protection of amnesty policies if they were to call for help on behalf of another student/teammate in a medical emergency. The results validate our initial survey results that students are not clear if their school has an amnesty policy, how it provides protection, whether the policy even applies to student-athletes as well as if it would be honored by an Athletic Dept/Coach.

Change can only happen if we continue to raise awareness of these critical matters, develop better implementation of prevention strategies and advocate for policy change.

RSA works closely with NIAAA, the largest funder of alcohol research in the world and one of the institutes making up the National Institute of Health.

May 2020: Initial survey research published by Journal of American College Health, titled “Student Awareness of Campus Medical Amnesty Policies”.

These results came from our initial survey conducted in early 2018. This research studied the relationship between medical amnesty policy awareness and expected consequences of bystander help seeking, including how these consequences differ for student-athletes vs non-athletes. The results confirm that there’s a general lack of awareness of medical amnesty and that students, even when they are aware of such policy, are still afraid to call for help, especially student-athletes.

March 2020: Foundation presents at the Naval Academy

We were invited to speak to the sophomore class at the United States Naval Academy. We shared McCrae’s story, raised awareness on Jansporting/Backpacking and Medical Amnesty as well as reviewed our research results on bystander behavior for student-athletes vs non-athletes. It was a honor to be invited to speak to these fine young men and women! We received positive feedback from many students!

March 2020: Recipients of 2020 McCrae James Williams Scholarship announced

We are excited to announce that Tripp Clark (St John’s Prep/St Lawrence University) and Georgia Parker (Framingham HS/Merrimack College) are the 2020 recipients of the McCrae James Williams Scholarship Award! They will each receive a check in the amount of $2,500 for college tuition and/or expenses.

The Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee felt that Tripp and Georgia best demonstrate McCrae’s same love of the game, passion, dedication, love for his team and friends as well as a sense of community. The Committee is made up of McCrae’s friends who rotate into the position annually.

We will introduce both recipients at the 2020 MJW Memorial Lacrosse Tournament held the day after Thanksgiving at Noble & Greenough School in Dedham.

January 2020: Foundation presents at NCAA’s Sport Science Institute East/West Coast Conferences called APPLE, titled “Help Seeking, Medical Amnesty Policies & Establishing a Culture of Care in Athletics”

The Foundation was honored to be a guest speaker at the NCAA’s Student Health and Wellness Conferences (APPLE) in January 2020 on both the East Coast and West Coast. The Foundation and the UNCG team presented McCrae’s story and the survey research in an effort to raise awareness of Jansporting as well as to advocate for student-athletes to be apprised the same rights as non-athletes with regard to an institution’s Medical Amnesty policy and not be overridden with punishment personally or as a team if a student-athlete makes an emergency call for help. Our presentations were very well-received. Students, Athletic Admin and the NCAA felt that we have raised critical issues about student-athlete bystander behavior.

Early 2019: Foundation partners with Institute to Promote Athlete Health and Wellness and Prevention Strategies

We are excited to have partnered with IPAHW and Prevention Strategies at UNC Greensboro! They felt that our first survey results highlighted student-athlete research and bystander behavior that hadn’t been really looked at to date. They agreed that there is room for improvement and better prevention strategies that could be implemented nationally as well as advocating for change with NCAA to recommend a policy to college institutions nationwide that athletes should be apprised the same rights as non-athletes with Medical Amnesty.

2018: Survey research and Coaches Forum

We created a survey distributed thru social media to explore students’ awareness of medical amnesty, Jansporting and bystander behavior. We had about 1200 respondents and athletes were 3 times less likely to call for help than a non-athlete. Jansporting, a relatively new phenomeno of backpacking a friend who appears drunk and laying them on their side in the misguided belief that it will help, is rampant.

We also held a Coaches Forum to get feedback on our Foundation Mission as well as to gain a better understanding of what coaches understand about Medical Amnesty and if they are honoring it or not. We learned that coaches feel that they are in a very difficult position, caught between the best interests of the student-athletes’ health and wellness and the administration/Athletic Director. Many of them were not even sure what medical amnesty was nor if their schools had a policy. They agreed that there is an issue and that students should have the same rights as non-athletes; however, they recognize that there is a disconnect between the administration and what’s the right thing to do. The feedback was excellent and we will use this as a basis to further our research.