CLEVELAND -- Schools are already taking action after a WKYC investigation which looked into concussion risk ratings for football helmets used by schools throughout Northeast Ohio.
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We contacted schools that reported using the Schutt Air Advantage and Riddell VSR4, which rated 2 and 1 stars respectively on the Virginia Tech Wake Forest impact test. We also contacted the 2 schools which have reported using the Adams A2000 Pro Elite. This helmet rated so poorly on the tests that it is "not recommended" for use on the football field. The Adams A2000 was also the only football helmet to receive "0" stars. Its manufacturer Adams USA no longer manufactures football helmets after selling off that portion of its business to Schutt Sports in 2011.
Riddell also no longer manufacturers the VSR4, and has established a trade-in program for the helmet. Click HERE for more information.
A number of the schools said they will stop using the lower rated helmets immediately. Others said they will begin phasing them out. We have included the responses we have received thus far below:
CLEVELAND METROPOLITAN SCHOOL DISTRICT: Several CMSD schools has 2 star helmets. East Tech has some Adams A2000 helmets in its inventory. The Adams A2000 received 0 Stars. "The findings of the study are valuable for CMSD's ongoing efforts to review and provide the safest equipment possible for our athletes. Safety of our athletes is a top priority. Any helmets in our inventory identified as substandard in the study will be replaced by helmets that meet safety standards." - Roseann Canfora, District Communications Officer
CAMPBELL MEMORIAL HIGH SCHOOL:Campbell has 13 Adams A2000 Pro Elite helmets (not recommended for use), 28 Riddell VSR4 helmets ( 1 star), 1 Schutt Air Advantage (2 star):
"Safety is always our number one concern. We appreciate the data you have shared." – Michael Bowen, Campbell City Schools Superintendent
SOLON HIGH SCHOOL:Solon has 1 Schutt Air Advantage (2 Stars)
"Based on our inventory of May 2013, which we submitted to you,we only had one of the lower rated helmets mentioned in our inventory. That helmet will not be in our inventory for the 2014 season. We have been aware of the study for the past few years and have used it when consulting with our sales representatives and Cleveland Clinic personnel who help us fit and maintain the helmets used by our athletes." - Mark T. McGuire, Solon Schools Athletic Director
HOWLAND HIGH SCHOOL:Howland has 1 Riddell VSR4 helmet in its inventory (1 Star)
"Thank you for communicating with us. We are aware of the helmets that we have that are low rated. We just ordered 26 new Xenith helmets to replace the low rated helmets we have, we will not put any of our athletes in those 1 and 2 star rated helmets. They are going to be "trophy helmets". This will put all of our players in 4 and 5 star helmets.." - Ron McCleary, Howland Local Schools Director of Athletics.
GREEN LOCAL SCHOOLS:Riddell VSR4 (1 star) Schutt Air Advantage (2 stars)
"We are aware of the study. None of our students use any of the Schutt Air Advantage at the high school level. Also we have no Riddell VSR4 in use at the high school. We did have 4 in use at the middle school level of the Riddell VSR4 and the comparable youth model and 2 of the Air Advantage at the middle school level. We have taken those out of use and will be using no 1 star or 2 star helmets in our middle school or high school programs. – Bruce Johnson, Green Athletic Director
* WKYC note: We asked schools for helmet inventory for their high school programs. Some districts supplied this information and included middle school inventory as well.
WESTERN RESERVE ACADEMY (COLLINS)Riddell VSR4 (1 star)
"We will be phasing out our Riddell VSR4 helmets at the end of their cycle. Each year, through Riddell we recondition and remove helmets from our inventory that have been rejected by the reconditioning process, been used for a total of 5 seasons, or that were purchased 10 years prior. In our inventory we do not have any Schutt Air Advantage (which is a 2 star rating). We do have 1 Schutt DNA Pro+ (which is a 3 star rating). This Helmet as with our others will be taken out of inventory once it age limits, or 5 years of use limits have been met. This year we are purchasing 14 new Riddell Revolution Speed Helmets. Our purchase order was completed in February of 2014." - Ryan Falknor Western Reserve Academy Athletic Director
GIRARD HIGH SCHOOL: Schutt Air Advantage (2 Star)
"I went back over the inventory and we have 117 helmets counting the Xenith X1 helmets which were purchased this winter. Of those helmets 82 are 4 star helmets and 15 are five star helmets. There are 17 three star helmets and 3 two star helmets (Air Advantage). There are no helmets of the Riddell VSR4 left in our inventory. We have tried to purchase the adult helmets which are of high quality for our entire program. Having 97 helmets out of 117 helmets (83%) of 4 stars or better is a pretty good start. We will be eliminating the 3 air advantage helmets this year and it is very likely we will not use them since we usually dress approximately 100 to 110 players for grades 7 thru 12. Thanks for your concern. The added information is appreciated. I had looked at the Virginia Tech study a few years back and I revisited it today before sending you this email. We will continue to do our best to protect all of our student athletes." - Joseph Cappuzzello Girard Athletic Director
LABRAE HIGH SCHOOL: Riddell VSR4 (1 Star)
"Thank you for the information. I was not aware of the rating system with the helmets. I have 2 helmets that are below a 4 star rating and I will be replacing them immediately." - Todd Rowe LaBrae High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director
SANDY VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL: 24 Schutt Air Advantage (2 Star)
"I am not aware of this study. The helmets we use at this time have served our purpose well with very few concussions the past number of years. Obviously if we find the helmets we use are no longer safe we would replace them. Maybe it is something to keep in mind as we purchase new ones each year. We could not replace them all it once but maybe gradually if needed." – Michael Keck, Sandy Valley Athletic Director
WEST GEAUGA HIGH SCHOOL: 1 Schutt Air Advantage (2 Star)
"We will look at those helmets and consider replacing them due to their "low" performance rating ." - John Cardiero West Geauga Athletic Director
TIMKEN HIGH SCHOOL: 7 Schutt Air Advantage (2 Star)
"Thank you for your inquiry. The safety of our football players is a priority and we are aware of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University 2013 Football Helmet Rating System. A very small amount of our helmets are rated a 2, and we have none that are rated a 1. We plan to replace the 2-rated helmets in our inventory with those that are rated higher." – Lisa Reicosky, Executive Communications Canton City School District
MINERVA HIGH SCHOOL: 21 Schutt Air Advantage (2 Star)
"I was not aware of the star rating system from Wake Forest. The study does make you think about what helmets our school should buy. This study reinforces allowing our kids to purchase a 5 star helmet on their own if they chose to do so. Which means if this study has as much bite to it as what is being reported, then shouldn't the company certifying our helmets (Which we pay incredible amounts of money to), up their standards also? This would give each school no choice but to purchase the 4 or 5 star ratings. " – Don Spinell, Minerva Athletic Director
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS : Riddell VSR4 (1 Star)
"Thanks for your follow-up regarding the safety of football helmets. I was not aware of the study from Virginia Tech and their rating system. We certainly will review the study as well as our inventory of helmets and make whatever decision is in the best interest of our kids." - Kristin Hughes, Director of Athletics Cleveland Heights University Heights