The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee decided against a proposal that would switch facial protection for student-athletes from full cages and shields to half visors last week. The decision, though, was made so that there could be further research on the topic, which is a positive step for College Hockey Inc. executive director Paul Kelly, who was at the forefront of the half visor proposal.
“It is neither a setback nor a debate killer,” Kelly said. “It is a recognition that it will take a bit more time and effort to convince the Competitive Safeguards Committee of the positives of our proposal for the sport and the athletes.”
Kelly said in an earlier story on USCHO.com that he felt he may only get one chance to present his case to the NCAA. But after concluding meetings last week, he feels the proposal is still headed in a positive direction.
“We respect the views of the committee and fully understand that their objective is to protect the safety and well-being of student athletes,” Kelly said. “While we may not see half visors this coming season, I am optimistic that we are moving in the right direction.”
A key to moving the proposal forward will be data gathering both from experimental use in the NCAA and from other leagues, such as the USHL, that are already using the half visor.
“Given the new technology in visors, and the very positive experience and safety data from the USHL and other leagues, I am hopeful that it is only a matter of time that we see visors in NCAA college hockey,” Kelly said. “We will be working together with the NCAA and members of the committee to collect and study additional data, and possibly to use visors in some college exhibition games to obtain feedback from players, coaches and officials.”
The NCAA rule book is altered in two-year cycles, which means that, assuming half visors won’t be approved for the 2010-11 season, the next time that the rule could change would be prior to the 2012-13 season.