Dr. Brian Hainline has helped guide the sports industry through one of the most complex pandemics in the world.
During times of crisis people look for the calm, insightful, leadership from true experts whom they can trust. Dr. Brian Hainline is the Chief Medical Officer for the NCAA and formerly held the same position with the USTA. A longtime sports medicine authority, his tireless efforts during the pandemic have been astonishing. For a sports scientist who lectures about sleep research and preaches about the need for sleep, Dr. Hainline has appeared to be a man who never sleeps.
He has been active in developing and providing medical guidelines and best practices as well as being an active spokesperson, including providing countless interviews and presenting on many podcasts.
The safety and concern of everyone is critically important during this time. However, the pandemic’s influence on sports is still unknown. The medical community has perhaps never been more important for sports.
Dr. Hainline oversees the NCAA Sport Science Institute. The SSI is a national center of excellence whose mission is to promote and develop safety, excellence, and wellness in college student-athletes while fostering lifelong physical and mental developments.
Cautious optimism from Dr. Hainline is expressed when talking about college sports being played in the fall. He urges leaders to take a methodical approach.
“It’s not going to be risk-free, that’s for sure,” Hainline said. “If this is rolled out in stages and reasonably, we’re really paying attention to proper surveillance and we get the tests available, I think we can have fall sports. My concern is if we just rush into this too quickly because of this almost sense of desperation that we just have to get going.”
For more than 25 years, Dr. Hainline has been actively involved in sports medicine. He co-authored Drugs and the Athlete, and played a pivotal role in the development of drug testing and education protocols worldwide. He is also the lead editor of the just released textbook titled Sports Neurology. His accomplishments in college sports are great; however, his advancements in college tennis have been remarkable. He played a pivotal role in the development of health and safety standards in tennis, both nationally and internationally. He was the Chief Medical Officer of the US Open Tennis Championships for 16 years, and then served in the same capacity with the USTA before taking the role with the NCAA.
Dr. Hainline is the chair of the International Tennis Federation Sport Science and Medicine Commission, and oversaw the rollout of international wheelchair tennis competition – a sport where he set forth the rules of eligibility for both para- and quad-tennis.
Tennis is not a new construct to Dr. Hainline as he was a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame, where he was the number one singles and doubles player in his senior season. There, he majored in philosophy within a pre-professional program, taking all of the necessary pre-med courses, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He then went on to earn his medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed his residency in neurology at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.
Interviewing for his dream job as neurology resident, Dr. Hainline was asked how he managed playing college tennis while studying both philosophy and pre-med. His reply, “I don’t have an extensive background in research that the other candidates have, but tennis has taught me discipline, the drive for excellence, and character development that comes from the journey of successes and failures.”
The response ultimately led him to receiving the residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Hainline is now the chair of the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Neurology Section, and Clinical Professor of Neurology at New York University School of Medicine and Indiana University School of Medicine.
He is a recipient of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association David A Benjamin Achievement Award, Simon’s Fund Protect This Heart Award, International Tennis Federation Award for Service to the Game, WTA Irving Glick Award, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame Tennis Education Merit Award.
“Brian Hainline exemplifies the best that our sport has to offer, a championship human being on and off the court,” ITA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Timothy Russell, PhD said. “I am proud to call Dr. Hainline a friend, one who I admire greatly for his breadth and depth of knowledge as well as his passion to serve. Intercollegiate athletics, the higher education enterprise, our country, and the world are all better off because of his work and tireless commitment to the betterment of all.”
As sports across the country – including the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit – begin to start up again, it is increasingly important for our decisions to be guided by medical experts that have insight into the intricacies of our sport and all sports.
For Dr. Hainline, the goal right now is not necessarily to go back to business as usual, whatever the “new normal” might look like, it is to get sports going again, and to do so safely and smartly.