Ivy League touts safety impact of experimental kickoff rule

(STATS) - The Ivy League's experimental football kickoff rule has led to a significant drop in injuries and concussions, the league announced Wednesday.

The Ivy League averaged six concussions per season from 2013-15, but there weren't any in the league in 2016, the first year of the experimental rule in league games. Kickoffs were moved up five yards from the 35-yard line to the 40 in an attempt to limit returns, which previously had accounted for 23.4 percent of concussions during games despite representing only 5.8 percent of overall plays.

The league is using the experimental rule again this season, with data to be reviewed after the season.

"We were very pleased when we reviewed the data to find our experimental kickoff rule had the desired effect, which is more touchbacks and fewer returns, leading to the most important goal, which is the safety and welfare of our incredible student-athletes." Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said.

With kickoffs from the 40, Ivy games had touchbacks 44.1 percent of the time, well ahead of the rest of FCS conferences. The number of kicks returned dropped 15.2 percent in 2016, the league said.

The 2016 results were provided to the NCAA Football Rules Committee in February.

The Ivy League has made safety measures a major focus, also eliminating "live" to-the-ground tackling in practices during the regular season last year.

Updated October 18, 2017

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