University of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon released a statement just prior to 1 a.m. EST Tuesday regarding the Shane Morris injury situation from Saturday afternoon's game against Minnesota.
The following was sent in a press release to the media, with my comments and thoughts added:
Statement from U-M Athletic Director Dave Brandon Regarding Student-Athlete Health and Welfare
This statement starts off terribly simply by being released at 1 a.m at night. This is a transparent attempt to slide this under the rug and hope nobody stays up to read it. Unfortunately for Mr. Brandon College Football fans never sleep.
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.
This may be completely true but some context is required. An ankle injury to an established starting quarterback in a 7-point game vs. Ohio State is one thing to play through. An ankle injury to a sophomore in his second start in the latter part of a 23-point beatdown vs. Minnesota is something else entirely. I believe that Shane Morris could play on his ankle in that he could physically stand on it, but given the context there was no reason for Shane to be out there at all. Even the ESPN announcing crew could see that.
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.
"Without the benefit of replays." Apparently the 20 million dollars worth of scoreboard on each end of the stadium wasn't quite enough. Besides the fact that everybody in that stadium saw the replay, the bigger question is how in the world did anybody not see the hit? Even assuming every coach turned away from Shane the moment he let go of the ball and nobody saw the hit coming, shouldn't the team neurologist have his eyes glued to Shane? After all, on a passing play concussions will come either at the QB or the WR, but given his ankle injury and Michigan's offensive line concern I'd say QB was much more likely. Plus shouldn't all team health staff, medical or training, be looking at the limping QB under center? For Dave Brandon to say nobody saw the hit on the field means he either believes it or believes we will believe it. That makes him a liar, an idiot or both.
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.
See above. No way he didn't see the hit. No way Morris should have been in before let alone the hit.
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.
Who called his name? Somebody in a position to make player substitutions, which I would imagine include Hoke and Nussmeier, called Shane. This means either Hoke or Nussmeier really didn't see the play (meaning the coaches are completely clueless to the plays and the players) or they did not care about the injury. This means one of the two was either or ignorant or indifferent. Either way it's not complimentary.
Yet the biggest problem with all of this is the timeline with the trainers. It just doesn't make sense. Here is what happened according to Dave Brandon, keeping in mind it take about 15 minutes to check for a concussion.
First, Shane Morris is hit hard and illegally (did the coaches miss the 15-yard roughing penalty too?). He is visibly concussed and can barely stand, held up by his linemen with apparent minimal limb functionality. Nobody on the sidelines sees the hit.
The neurologist sees Shane stumble and "with expertise in detecting signs of concussions, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane." Well that sounds great, until you ask "Why would seeing Shane stumble, after limping for most of the game, suddenly think to check for a concussion unless he saw the hit?" The answer is simple, he wouldn't have. If the neurologist really went to check on Shane, he must have saw the hit. Does Dave Brandon lack the ability to make that connection or is he covering it up? Again, idiot or a liar.
So the neurologist magically determines that this particular limp is different from the last one and determines there was a head injury, without seeing the play, the replay or the crowd reaction and goes to check on Shane... except he doesn't? Right after Brandon tells us that he goes to check on Shane, he tells us Shane came off the field the next play (not for injury reasons though, it was fourth down) and was evaluated by "the head athletic trainer for ankle injury." Once again the athletic trainer was not aware of the hit... somehow. The athletic trainer cleared him for one additional play and we all know he ended up going out when Gardner lost his helmet. So where did the neurologist go?
Brandon tells us that "the neurologist and other team physicians were not aware Shane was being asked to return to the field" but he doesn't actually tell us what they were doing. Let's back up and look at the timeline again.
1. Shane gets hurt on 2nd down. Neurologist sees stumble and goes to evaluate Shane.
2. Shane throws incomplete on third down. Trainer clears Shane's ankle after play. Neurologist failed to reach Shane in between plays or while being examined by the athletic trainer. Where did he go?
3. Shane reenters for Devin Gardner unbeknownst to the neurologist and other team physicians when called by an unnamed voice less than 15 minutes later. This means that 1) there were at least 3 doctors responsible for Shane Morris 2) None of them were near Shane Morris at the time 3) A coach willing called him back out 4) No concussion test was given as there had not been enough time between plays. Make sense?
It all adds up to a lot of misdirection and slight of hand in an attempt to hide the truth (similar to the Coke promotion "accident" that conveniently sold out the tickets before being stopped). All of it points to Dave Brandon wanting you to believe the following:
- Nobody on the sidelines saw the play, replay, crowd reaction or Shane reaction to the hit, nor did the referees or any player on the field close enough to speak up.
- A team neurologist did see that Shane was limping and went to examine him (yet he says nothing of the actual examination)
- At least three doctors assigned to Shane Morris did not realize when Morris was called on to the field
Yet here is what Dave Brandon doesn't want you to realize:
- Everybody on the sideline saw the play, replay and crowd reaction but nobody stood up to say something. This suggests a very negative culture inside that locker room. Hoke has a history of pushing injured players (Molk in Sugar Bowl 2012, Gardner vs OSU 2013) and quite possibly has established a culture where it is acceptable to play through injury. This could be a massive underlying issue.
- A team neurologist saw the hit and went to examine Shane but was unable to do so. Somebody prevented the neurologist from examining Shane and I'll leave you to imagine who has the authority to do that.
- Shane Morris was called back onto the field, according to Brandon himself, and was allowed to reenter with little protest. Either nobody was examining him or the people examining him were told to let him go.