To the McDaniel College student-athletes and their parents or guardians:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) now requires confirmation of sickle cell trait status in Division III student athletes (it was already required in Division I and II). Confirmation of sickle cell status will be required of all incoming NCAA DIII student athletes in the 2013-2014 school year and for all athletes by 2014-2015.

Starting Aug. 1, the newly approved guidelines require schools to confirm the sickle cell trait status of incoming student athletes before participation in sports events in one of three ways:

  • A student athlete may provide documented results of a sickle cell solubility test taken before participation in sports.
  • A student athlete may sign a waiver and submit to "appropriate precautions as set forth by the institution" following pending results of a sickle cell solubility test.
  • A student athlete may opt out by signing a waiver to decline confirmation of sickle cell trait status after receiving education on the implications of signing such a waiver and regarding sickle cell trait status.

Please read through the enclosed information.  It contains the following: 

  • Sickle cell trait information
    • A sickle cell trait test form
    • A sickle cell trait test waiver form


Sickle Cell Information

What is Sickle Cell Trait?

  • Sickle cell trait is an inherited condition of the oxygen-carrying protein, hemoglobin, in the red blood cells.
  • Although sickle cell trait is most predominant in African-American and those of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Indian, Caribbean, and South and Central American ancestry, persons of all races and ancestry may test positive for sickle cell trait.
  • Sickle cell trait is usually benign, but during intense, sustained exercise, hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in the muscles may cause sickling of red blood cells (red blood cells changing from a normal disc shape to a crescent or “sickle” shape), which can accumulate in the bloodstream and “logjam” blood vessels, leading to collapse from the rapid breakdown of muscles starved of blood.
  • Likely sickling settings include timed runs, all out exertion of any type for 2-3 continuous minutes without a rest period, intense drills, and other spurts of exercise after prolonged conditioning exercises, and other extreme conditioning sessions. 
  • Common signs and symptoms of a sickling emergency include, but are not limited to: increased pain and weakness in the working muscles (especially the legs, buttocks, and/or low back); cramping type pain of muscles; soft, flaccid muscle tone; and/or immediate symptoms with no early warning signs.

Testing Procedures

  • McDaniel Sports medicine will make every effort to determine a student athlete’s sickle cell testing history.  This will be accomplished by informing new student-athletes of the NCAA mandate prior to their arrival on campus.
  • A blood test will need to be obtained with the results forwarded to McDaniel College’s Wellness Center.
  • Should an athlete choose not to be tested, they will sign a waiver acknowledging they have been made aware of the risk and have chosen not to be tested.
  • Sickle cell trait testing may be requested by the medical staff if the student has symptoms to suggest sickling such as recurrent cramping or muscle injury.

For athletes confirmed positive for sickle cell trait, the following precautions will be taken in order to prevent complications:

  • The student-athlete will slowly build up the intensity and duration of their training with paced progressions.  This will also include longer periods for rest and recovery.
  • The student-athlete will participate in pre-season conditioning programs in order to prepare them for the rigors of their competitive seasons.  The student-athletes may have modified performance tests such as mile runs, serial sprints, etc.
  • The student-athlete will stop all activity and seek medical evaluation with the onset of symptoms such as “muscle cramping”, pain, swelling, weakness, tenderness, fatigue, or the inability to “catch breath”.
  • The student-athlete will be given the opportunity to set their own pace during conditioning drills.
  • The student-athlete’s participation may be altered during periods of heat stress, dehydration, asthma, illness, or activity in high altitudes.

Gregg Nibbelink, MS, LAT, ATC
Head Athletic Trainer
McDaniel College

Resources for more information:

National Athletic Trainers Association.  Consensus Statement:  Sickle Cell Trait and the Athlete.  Retrieved from:

Click here to print and fill out the required forms.