An ‘Appalling’ Saturday
The NCAA has failed. Michigan has failed. Brady Hoke has failed.
Shane Morris was abused. His health and safety was recklessly disregarded. And for what? Michigan was taking a shellacking. Morris’ brain and body took a needless beating.
ESPN’s announcers, Ed Cunningham and Mike Patrick, declared Michigan’s incompetence multiple times:
Ed: THEY HAVE GOT TO GET HIM OUT OF THE BALL GAME!
Mike: I’M TOTALLY WITH YOU. HE HAS GOT TO COME OUT. I MEAN, HE WAS WOBBLY AFTER THAT. FORGET THE LIMPING.
Ed: YOU’VE GOT TO EJECT THIEREN COCKRAN. THAT IS TARGETING. HE DROPS HIS HEAD. HE LAUNCHES. IF IT’S FORCIBLE CONTACT AND IT MOVES UP INTO THE HEAD AREA, I CANNOT BELIEVE COCKRAN WAS NOT CALLED FOR TARGETING AND NOT ONLY EJECTED FROM THIS GAME BUT THEN HE WOULD BE EJECTED FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE SECOND. YOU HAVE TO CALL THAT A TARGETING PENALTY.
Mike: THAT CERTAINLY LOOKED LIKE IT.
Ed: I CAN TELL YOU THAT NUMBER 7 IS STILL IN THIS GAME IS APPALLING. IT IS APPALLING THAT HE WAS LEFT IN ON THAT PLAY. TO THROW THE BALL AGAIN AND AS BADLY AS HE WAS HIT BY COCKRAN AND COCKRAN SHOULD HAVE BEEN EJECTED AND MISSED THE REST OF THIS GAME AND NEXT WEEK.
Concerned spectators took to Twitter and unleashed their fury with Michigan’s gross incompetence:
I can't believe Shane Morris was allowed to stay in the #Michigan game. Are there no concussion regulations in college? Just stunning.
— Ryan Flaherty (@TheRyanFlaherty) September 27, 2014
As awful as Michigan has been, Brady Hoke should be fired for putting a QB with a possible (and likely) concussion back in the game.
— Charlie Hannema (@CharlieHannema) September 27, 2014
Brady Hoke inexcusably let Shane Morris take a beating without evaluating him for a concussion. http://t.co/9cAcw6BhuJ
— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) September 28, 2014
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) September 28, 2014
Look at this photo and tell me he is not concussed, TELL ME. (Photo Credit: Leon Halip, USA TODAY) pic.twitter.com/FNR75YG2Sv
— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 28, 2014
Leaving Shane Morris in for that long given how visibly injured he was is a fireable offense. No ifs, ands, or buts.
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) September 27, 2014
But this is exactly how the NCAA envisions its concussion policy to work. “When in doubt, get checked out.” In other words, unless a player makes a self-diagnosis of a concussion, he is not coming out.
The entire world expressed doubt. Hoke directed Morris to return to play because, in Hoke’s words, Morris didn’t stay down.
I don’t know if he had a concussion or not, I don’t know that…. Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid. And Shane wanted to be the quarterback, and so, believe me, if he didn’t want to be he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down. – Brady Hoke
Every player wants to play – they have been conditioned their entire lives to “play through pain” and to obey their coaches.
Hoke’s response punctuates why the NCAA’s concussion policy is a failure.
First, the toothless concussion management plan places the responsibility for reporting injuries on the student-athletes. The same student-athlete who is experiencing amnesia, who is not thinking clearly, or more bluntly, who is suffering from a brain injury.
Second, Hoke admits he does not know how to identify obvious signs and symptoms of an apparent concussion – certainly Morris’ injuries were enough to trigger doubt.
Meanwhile, Hoke – who is paid more than $2 million a year – articulated the NCAA’s defense in concussion lawsuits: It’s the player’s fault. We are not responsible.
And, of course, the NCAA won’t take any action. The NCAA won’t investigate. The NCAA won’t inquire with Michigan as to why a player’s life was put in jeopardy. Nope. The NCAA apparently has more important things to do than to live up to its founding purpose of protecting student-athletes.
One last note, Hoke’s actions arguably constitute a fireable offense pursuant to his contract,
“The University has the right to terminate the employment of the Head Coach for cause in the event of only the following…(c) Conduct of Head Coach which offends public decency or morality as shall be determined by the standards prevailing in the community…(g) Fraud or willful malfeasance in the performance of any duties or responsibilities under this Agreement.”
What say you? Were you outraged? Were you offended?
Let’s see how concerned Michigan is with the health and safety of its student-athletes.
Update – September 30, 7:59 am
Public outrage forces Michigan’s hand. Michigan’s athletic director issued a lengthy statement early Tuesday morning. It essentially admits that Michigan’s policies failed and that Morris did, indeed, suffer a concussion. The full statement from Dave Brandon is below:
Ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of our student-athletes resides with each team’s coach and with me, as the Director of Athletics. We are committed to continuously improving our procedures to better protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes.
I have had numerous meetings since Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday’s football game regarding student-athlete Shane Morris. I have met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing Shane’s care and determining his medical fitness for participation.
In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline. Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes. I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made. We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first.
I have worked with Darryl Conway, my Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Health and Welfare, to develop a detailed accounting of the events that occurred. Darryl is the person who oversees all athletic training personnel and serves as the liaison to the physicians we work with through the University of Michigan Health System and University Health Services.
It is important to note that our athletic trainers and physicians working with Michigan Athletics have the unchallengeable authority to remove student-athletes from the field of play. Michigan Athletics has numerous medical professionals at every football competition including certified athletic trainers and several physicians from various relevant specialties.
I, along with Darryl and our administrative and medical teams, have spent much of the last two days carefully reviewing the situation regarding Shane Morris. We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes’ well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly.
With his permission, I can share that Shane Morris suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s game. He was evaluated for that injury by an orthopedic surgeon and an athletic trainer several times during the game. With each of these evaluations it was determined that his ankle injury did not prevent him from playing.
In the fourth quarter, Shane took a significant hit and stumbled after getting up. From the field level and without the benefit of replays, medical and coaching staffs did not see the hit. Because they did not see the hit, the athletic training staff believed Shane stumbled because of his ankle injury. The team neurologist, watching from further down the field, also did not see the hit. However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane.
Shane came off the field after the following play and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury. Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play.
The neurologist and other team physicians were not aware that Shane was being asked to return to the field, and Shane left the bench when he heard his name called and went back into the game. Under these circumstances, a player should not be allowed to re-enter the game before being cleared by the team physician. This clearly identifies the need for improvements in our sideline and communication processes.
Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game. As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again.
Going forward, we have identified two changes in our procedures that we will implement immediately:
We will have an athletic medicine professional in the press box or video booth to ensure that someone will have a bird’s eye view of the on-field action, have television replay available and have the ability to communicate with medical personnel on the sidelines.
We are also examining how to reinforce our sideline communication processes and how decisions will be made in order to make sure that information regarding student-athlete availability to participate is communicated effectively amongst the medical team and to our coaches.
We have learned from this experience, and will continue to improve ways to keep our student-athletes’ health and safety our number one priority.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.