Skip to main content

Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Grant Program announces 2018-19 projects

May 16, 2018

Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative

SAN FRANCISCO – As a part of the Pac-12’s Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Grant Program, the Conference announced today the six research projects selected for funding this year. The research projects support efforts to address important student-athlete health issues including head trauma, mental health and injury prevention, and total $3 million in funding.

Created in 2013, the Grant Program is part of the overall Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative. The initiative is a collective effort between the Conference and its member universities to improve the health, general well-being, and safety of student-athletes at all institutions. Since its founding, the program has committed funding for 18 research projects with a total investment of nearly $10 million.

“This program represents an unprecedented and remarkable commitment to the health and well-being of the student-athlete by the Conference and is producing impressive results,” said Dr. Kim Harmon, chair of the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Board and head football physician at the University of Washington. “In addition, it has fostered collaboration and communication between Pac-12 institutions, enabling us to achieve things as a Conference that we would have been unable to as individual institutions. This should serve as an aspirational model for all conferences.”

“In addition to our important head trauma and injury surveillance projects, it was important to us to ensure the full health and well-being of our student-athletes by funding multiple mental health projects as well,” said Dan Nordquist, the Associate Vice President for the Office of Research Support and Operations unit at Washington State University and the chair of the Pac-12’s Research Grant Program Committee.

“We commend our membership, medical staffs and faculty for continuing their collaborative efforts toward finding new ways to keep our student-athletes as safe as possible,” said Woodie Dixon, General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs for the Pac-12. “Additionally, we’re extremely proud to have our first student-athlete led project – the #DamWorthIt campaign. Mental health care awareness is a growing issue nationally, with former Pac-12 student-athletes Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan recently addressing the cause in professional sports. We thank Taylor and Nathan for recognizing the need and bringing the study of mental health care for collegiate student-athletes to the forefront.”

Along with its inclusion for funding in the Pac-12 Grant Program, the #DamWorthIt campaign – spearheaded by Oregon State student-athletes Taylor Ricci and Nathan Braaten – has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Giant Steps Award, Civic Leaders category from the Institute for Sport and Social Justice.

The Pac-12 Grant Program has made it a priority to fund cutting-edge research by pooling the collective expertise of its membership, which comprises some of the foremost research institutions in the world. The projects being funded this cycle include (with the lead university noted):

1. Overall Health: The STEALTH Project Pilot Study: Student Athlete Health Assessment Using PROMIS Tools (Colorado)
The study proposes the use of National Institute of Health’s Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) surveys to assess the impact of participation and injuries in Pac-12 sports, inclusive of the physical, mental and social health of student-athletes before, during and after their competition seasons. The results of this pilot study will help identify student-athlete populations that may be at elevated risk, and allow for the identification of best practices that allow coaches, trainers, therapists and other healthcare providers to optimize student-athlete health and well-being as they participate over the course of a season.

2. Head Trauma and Mental Health: From Head Impacts to Brain Injury, Determining the Mechanism Underlying Concussions in Pac-12 Football (Stanford)
In an effort to determine the causes of concussive injury, this study plans to implement the use of the Stanford Instrumented Mouthguard 2.0 (MiG2) in combination with MR imaging with the football teams at two Pac-12 institutions to collect data on concussions. This will expand upon recent research and data collected with an instrumented mouthguard in combination with MRI with the Stanford football program. In that study, researchers discovered that concussions could be predicted by peak head angular acceleration, correlating with signal changes on MRI. At its completion, this will be the first study to identify mechanisms of concussion by tracing the head angular acceleration input, to brain tissue damage, to advanced imaging detection of injury.

3. Head Trauma: Strengthening Concussion Education by Engaging Medical Staff: Continued Program Development and Evaluation (Washington)
Expanding on a previous grant project that led to the development of a web-based concussion training platform (, this study aims to 1) evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of the platform, and 2) enhance the impact of the platform through a preseason meeting between coaches and medical staff about concussion. This study will use a participant-engaged approach to develop materials to support such a meeting and will conduct an evaluation of the platform and the additive impact of the preseason meeting in all interested Pac-12 institutions.

4. Injury Surveillance: Scaling Up Student-Athlete Exposure Tracking Using PacTrac (Oregon State)
After a prior grant project developed PacTrac, a web-based application system that allows athletic trainers (ATs) to capture detailed athletic exposures to evaluate injury rate data, it was determined that the level of detail in which exposure is reported can influence injury rate estimates, and that the feasibility of collecting the most detail exposure information varied across AT staffing, sport and schools. The objectives of the proposal are to scale PacTrac for use conference-wide, engage stakeholders to develop conference-wide minimum exposure reporting standards for each sport, and assess the implementation feasibility of those standards using PacTrac. Upon completion, the project will provide the Conference and its member schools with the flexible exposure reporting system needed to harness the full potential of the Pac-12’s Sports Injury Registry Management and Analytics Program (SIRMAP) to support local and conference-wide improvements in student-athlete health and wellness.

5. Injury and Prevention: Developing a Comprehensive, Quantitative Understanding of Hip Morphometrics and Biomechanics in Collegiate Athletes at Risk for Developing Femoroacetabular Impingement Syndrome (Utah)
Femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAIS) is a common cause of hip pain and dysfunction among collegiate athletes, and a known precursor to hip osteoarthritis. Prevention is the key to reducing rates of FAIS, but research in this area is lacking. The research team believes effective prevention of FAIS starts with an in-depth understanding of how hip anatomy is altered in three-dimensions, and the extent to which abnormal hip anatomy disrupts hip biomechanics, prior to the onset of symptoms. In this study, researchers will compare 3D hip shape and biomechanics between collegiate athletes, control subjects that do not have a history of participation in the same sports, and FAIS patients who are seen in treated in the clinic. The future impact of this work is that it will support a prospective trial to determine if application of a modified training regimen reduces the prevalence of FAIS in athletes.

6. Mental Health: #DamWorthIt Campaign (Oregon State)
The #DamWorthIt Campaign, which was launched at Oregon State University in 2018, has a mission statement of utilizing the influential platform of sport to open the conversation around mental health in collegiate athletics, ending the stigma to make every team, every sport, and every student-athlete know that they are #DamWorthIt! The #DamWorthIt Campaign is designed to be a comprehensive program that will work to end the stigma around mental health through three pillars: education, resources and awareness/comfort. The #DamWorthIt Campaign aims to normalize, destigmatize and spread awareness about the epidemic of mental health in collegiate athletics through these three distinct pillars. The focus of this grant project is to expand the #DamWorthIt program throughout Pac-12 Conference Athletic Departments and Student-Athlete Advisory Committees.

The request for proposal for the 2019 funding cycle of the Grant Program will be released by July 1, 2018 and will be found at Letters of Intent for the 2019 cycle are due Sept. 17, 2018. Questions may be sent to and more information on the Pac-12’s Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative can be found at

About the Pac-12 Conference
The Conference has a tradition as the “Conference of Champions,” leading the nation in NCAA Championships in 51 of the last 57 years, with 507 NCAA team titles overall. The Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities: The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University. For more information on the Conference’s programs, member institutions, and Commissioner Larry Scott, go to