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Michigan's Athletic Director admits mistakes in handling Morris concussion

Sep 30, 2014

Michigan Athletic Director, David Brandon.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon says the university will make changes to ensure student-athlete safety.

This comes after U of M confirmed overnight that quarterback Shane Morris did play after suffering a mild concussion in Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

Here’s how Morris appeared after the hit:

Brandon issued a statement blaming  “a serious lack of communication” for allowing Morris to return to the game. He says the communication problem involved the team’s medical staff and coaches.

Brandon released the details of the communication breakdown in his statement:

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.

Just last year, the New York Times wrote a piece praising the University of Michigan and Michigan State University for being the only two Big Ten schools with neurologists on the sidelines.

Hoke says he was not aware

Head coach Brady Hoke held a regularly scheduled press conference yesterday and made statements defending his actions with regard to Morris.

Hoke was harshly criticized for keeping Morris on the field after the player appeared to be woozy following a collision in the second half.

Hoke defended himself yesterday, saying he was not aware that Morris might have suffered from a concussion.

“You know there should be some criticism when we talk about the performance - that’s me and coaching. I understand that, but when your integrity and your character are attacked, I think that is really unwarranted,” said Hoke.

You can watch his press conference here.

In his statement, Athletic Director Brandon said Hoke’s press conference was another mistake they hope to avoid.

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.

Here's the statement Coach Brady Hoke released Sunday night - prior to his press conference on Monday:

“The safety of our student-athletes is always our top priority. We generally never discuss the specifics of a student-athlete's medical care, but Shane Morris was removed from yesterday's game against Minnesota after further aggravating an injury to his leg that he sustained earlier in the contest. He was evaluated by our experienced athletic trainers and team physicians, and we're confident proper medical decisions were made. The University of Michigan has a distinguished group of Certified Athletic Trainers and team physicians who are responsible for determining whether or not a player is physically able to play. Our coaches have no influence or authority to make determinations if or when an injured player returns to competition. The health and welfare of our student-athletes is and will continue to be a top priority.”

*This post has been updated.