INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA says it is committed to ensuring the safety of all college athletes and plans to open a national sports science institute to make playing sports safer.

The comments came in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Monday night, the day after President Barack Obama acknowledged that if he had a son, he would have to think about letting him play football. The NCAA did not specifically address Obama’s comments about football, choosing instead to address the broader issue.

“Student-athlete safety is one of our foundational principles,” the statement read. “Throughout its history, the association and its member institutions and conferences have specifically addressed the prevention of student-athlete injuries through a combination of playing rules, equipment requirements, medical best practices and policies.”

But now the governing body is taking a bold new step — starting the NCAA’s Sports Science Institute, which will be run by Dr. Brian Hainline, a neurologist with extensive sports medicine expertise. He was hired as the NCAA’s first chief medical officer in October so he could lead the center.

“In an effort to identify solutions and opportunities to ensure student-athlete health and safety, the NCAA will continue to lead extensive outreach and collaboration with the medical, scientific and athletics communities,” the NCAA said. “This Institute will function as a national resource to provide safety, health and medical expertise and research for coaches, medical staff, and athletics administrators, including a national task force for collegiate football safety.”

Virginia to play Oregon

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia will meet Oregon for the first time on the football field this year in a two-game series that will bring the Cavaliers to Eugene, Ore., in 2016.

The schools announced the matchup on Monday. They will play Sept. 7.

The addition of Oregon to Virginia’s schedule means the Cavaliers will play eight home games at Scott Stadium for the first time in their history. Virginia opens the season Aug. 31 at home against BYU.

Cavaliers drop Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State got the boot from Virginia’s 2013 schedule.

Virginia was supposed to visit Beaver Stadium on Sept. 14, the return trip after the Nittany Lions lost 17-16 in Charlottesville last September.

Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said Monday in a statement that he hoped to find a replacement soon.

Virginia executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver said in that statement announcing the Oregon series that the Cavs hoped to reschedule the rematch against Penn State. Joyner hoped to reschedule as well.

Tennessee spring game set

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee will hold its spring football game April 20 at 2 p.m. at Neyland Stadium, the school announced Monday.

The Volunteers will open their first spring practice under new coach Butch Jones on March 9.

Spring practice closes April 20 with the Orange and White Game. The Vols also have scheduled their pro timing day for March 20.

Tennessee went 5-7 last year for its third straight losing season.

This represents the first time the Vols have posted losing records in three straight years since 1909-11.