ACC placing medical observers in booth for member teams

The Atlantic Coast Conference is taking additional steps in order to protect players' safety in 2015.

Gerry Broome/AP

PINEHURST, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference is the latest college football league to announce its plans to employ additional medical observers in games this fall.

In his annual state-of-the-league address at the ACC Kickoff, commissioner John Swofford outlined his conference’s plans to place medical observers in the replay booth — one observer per member school — for every game in 2015.

"We are supportive and an advocate for making the game of football as safe as it can possibly be, and not just focusing on concussions but all of the player-safety points of concern," Swofford said. "Our medical group, led by Duke’s Dr. T. Moorman, has begun identifying ways to collaborate on injury prevention and treatment."

The medical observers will have access to instant replay and serve as extensions of each program’s medical staff, aided by a working knowledge of players’ medical histories, and will have the ability to contact medical personnel on the sidelines if a player’s health or safety is in question.

The medical observer will not have the ability to stop the game.

The additional safety protocol, aimed specifically at addressing the sport’s ongoing concussion issue, is also being adopted by the likes of the Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference. While SEC medical observers will be able to contact officials and potentially pull players from the game, Swofford compared the ACC’s system to the Pac-12’s.

"This is a next-step innovation in insuring player safety," SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said at last week’s SEC Media Days.