His new role will also include developing practices and procedures as well as serving as a conference spokesperson to communicate health and medical matters to people outside the league.
“It is an honor to be named chief medical officer for the Big Ten Conference, which has long been a leader in collegiate athletics,” Borchers said in a news release from the league. “This will be a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with the talented medical professionals within the conference and across all levels of college and professional sports as we continue to provide a best-in-class environment of health, safety and wellness for our nearly 10,000 student-athletes.”
Last year, Borchers co-chaired a Big Ten medical committee that worked on developing plans for Big Ten football and other sports to return to the field after the conference’s chancellors and presidents voted to postpone the season in August.
He was widely credited for helping Big Ten leaders to come around to the decision to restart the football season in the fall rather than wait for winter or even spring, a move that ultimately allowed the Buckeyes to win another Big Ten title and play in the College Football Playoff.
“We were blessed to have Jim Borchers in that seat,” Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith said when the decision to return to play was announced last fall. “I can’t emphasize that enough because we felt here at Ohio State we were doing things top of class.”
In a December interview with the Dayton Daily News, Borchers downplayed his role.
“I think if I did anything well at that time, I was able to present the data to them in a way that helped them to understand not only the problem identification but the problem solution and what that solution meant and what we could expect moving forward, and what our goals were and what they were not,” Borchers said.
Borchers played at Alter for current Knights coach Ed Domsitz, who remembered him as “one of those kids you just knew was going to be successful.”
“We’re just very pleased and proud of what he’s been able to accomplish. You get a great feeling about about that. It’s not just the kid to go on and play football and succeed and go on even to the NFL,” Domsitz added. “It’s very gratifying to see your former players be able to accomplish things like Jim’s accomplished, and it’s special.”
Borchers’ communication skills were seen as key in passing information on to key decision-makers in a timely fashion last fall.
It was a role not unlike long snapping — except in this case he was responsible for reversing a decision to punt.
“I think if I was able to offer some perspective and direction and be a voice for our medical sub-committee to the chancellors and presidents to be able to provide a path forward for competition and for all sports in the Big Ten, then I was glad to glad to take that on,” Borchers said last year. “You always get more credit than you probably deserve and more criticism and than you probably deserve when you’re in these sorts of roles, but I’m glad that the Big Ten was able to find their way to a football season.”