NACOGDOCHES — In a move designed to enhance the safety of its football student-athletes, SFA announced Friday that it has taken advantage of the Southland Conference’s partnership with VICIS — an agreement which provides the league’s member institutions access to the VICIS ZERO1 football helmet and has made a financial commitment to outfit its players with the top-of-the-line helmet in 2019 and beyond.

“Our new partnership with coach Carthel and SFA delivers on a deep commitment to promoting player protection and education,” said Dave Marver, VICIS CEO and co-founder. “We are proud to support these student-athletes with our protective technologies this season and beyond.”

This past July, the Southland announced its partnership with VICIS, which will provide its football student-athletes access to the ZERO1 helmet and to provide education on the latest advancements in sports equipment.

With that partnership, Southland football coaches, trainers and equipment managers have access to on-field safety-related educational seminars provided by VICIS personnel.

Additionally, Southland programs receive significant discounts toward the purchase of helmets and accessories, all with the focus of improving student-athlete safety in the sport of football.

“As we continue to build SFA football into a championship caliber program, it only makes sense to partner with VICIS, the premier helmet company in the industry,” head coach Colby Carthel said. “Our players are fired up to be wearing the safest — and therefore the best — helmet in the game. While the sport of football has never been safer to play than it is right now, this partnership with VICIS takes our players’ safety to another level.”

SFA director of athletics Ryan Ivey said, “We are extremely excited about this partnership with VICIS. Student-athlete safety and well being are not just hot topic items for us to discuss, but rather meaningful and specific principles that guide our actions. Whether that’s enhanced nutritional programs, or meaningful and impactful student-athlete programming, here at SFA we are committed to ensuring that our student-athletes are provided every opportunity for a healthy, safe and successful experience on and off of the competition surface.”

The most technologically advanced helmet available, the ZERO1 features a deformable outer shell and a unique columnar layer designed to slow impact forces while enhancing players performance.

Players from more than 1,800 high schools, 200 NCAA programs and 30 NFL teams have embraced the ZERO1.

Playing a large part in SFA football’s partnership with VICIS were the individual donors to SFA’s Purple Lights Fund — the primary fundraising arm of SFA athletics. The PLF’s primary mission is to provide resources to enhance the student-athlete experience at SFA through financial support at various levels.

“I would like to say, ‘thank you’ to the fine folks who made this partnership happen with their donation to the Purple Lights Fund,” Carthel said.

“This is exactly what the PLF is all about — providing championship resources for all of our student-athletes. The generous support of a few, has made a tremendous, lasting impact on so many.”

Echoing Carthel’s feelings of gratitude, Ivey stated, “A sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of those who helped make this partnership possible. Through generous donations to the PLF, we are able to provide and increase the experiences of all of our student-athletes. If you haven’t had the opportunity to join, now is the time to do so. These are the type of projects that our PLF members make possible.”