The number of college, high school and recreational football players left paralyzed by spinal injuries has dropped 75 percent since rule changes in 1976 that outlawed head-first tackling, according to a new medical study.
However, the number of deaths from football-related head injuries since 1976 dropped only 22 percent, according to the study, the results of which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Those numbers are very encouraging, but not good enough," said Joseph Vegso, a trainer and staff member at the University of Pennsylvania Sports Medicine Center in Philadelphia, where the study was undertaken.
"Kids think they're invincible, that their head is just another part of the body to tackle with," Vegso said in a telephone interview. "The burden now is to educate the parents, coaches, school administrators and the kids themselves before the bad habits become ingrained . . . "
Newly hired Notre Dame football Coach Lou Holtz has named former Pittsburgh head coach Foge Fazio and former Minnesota wide receivers coach Pete Cordelli as assistants, school officials announced. Fazio will be defensive coordinator and Cordelli will work with the offense, it was reported . . .
A clean reputation is better than a winning one, and college coaches who violate NCAA and school regulations are less likely to remain on campus, the president of Michigan State University said.
"I think intercollegiate athletics creates a level of interest on campus -- enthusiasm and morale, if you will. And that's all very good," John DiBiaggio said. "But from my perspective, (coaches') employment will not depend on the won-and-lost record. It will depend on our institution maintaining integrity. And a coach here will have to be more worried about our abandoning academic standards and violating fundamental rules than he would about winning and losing.