In a statement sent out just before 1 a.m. ET Tuesday morning, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon apologized for the way the school handled QB Shane Morris' injury situation, saying "there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline."
Brandon's statement contradicts what coach Brady Hoke said Monday afternoon. The embattled coach defended the way Morris was treated said he didn't make decisions as to who stays in or comes out of a game because of injuries. Hoke also said that he didn't see the hit, that Morris was not diagnosed with a concussion that he knew of and that he hadn't talked to Brandon since the 30-7 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
According to Brandon, Morris has a "probable, mild concussion" Hoke did not know of the diagnosis when he spoke to the media Monday, yet anther example of a lack of communication in a situation full of them.
"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.
A few plays after Morris was tackled awkwardly and got up limping, he got hit in the chin and was very wobbly when he got up. He motioned to stay in the game and remained for a play before he was taken out. He then played another play when backup QB Devin Gardner was forced to miss a play after his helmet came off.
Brandon said Tuesday morning that, somehow, no one on Michigan's medical and coaching staffs did not see the hit Morris took. Brandon also said that the school's "systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly." Apparently the staff at a university with an athletic budget near $140 million has a hard time being aware during a game of a potential concussion in a sport where head injuries are far too common.
"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.
Brandon is correct; this is another mistake that can't occur again. But it's a mistake that shouldn't have occurred in the first place and Morris was put in serious danger because of a miscommunication at best and incompetence at worst.
To prevent another mishandling of another injury, Michigan will now have a member of its medical staff in the press box with access to video replay and is "also examining how to reinforce our sideline communication processes and how decisions will be made."
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