FanPost

WSU trainer removed for holding out players with concussions?

I follow WSU football pretty religiously, and I had not seen a whiff of anything like this before. Apparently our head trainer left the football program last fall (or was removed, it is unclear, especially because he is now in an administrative position with WSU) after expressing reservations about certain workouts and clashing with the coaching staff over player concussions.

Just from the quote below, it seems like the training staff and the players were indicating they weren't ready to play yet, and the coaching staff was pressuring the return of those players because of suspicions that they were "soft."

This is a tough one, but just based upon the quotes here, I'm inclined to come away from this piece with some serious reservations about the coaching staff and how this situation was handled. While it is possible that someone simply had an ax to grind in this scenario, I'm much more inclined to believe there were some serious concerns about player safety that simply were not voiced until this article was written.


Admittedly, the increased number of concussions during last fall was pretty staggering, but caution seems to be the name of the game when it comes to head injuries, and the idea that this coaching staff is putting pressure to return these players over the head of the training staff, and that a member of the training staff may have been let go (forced out, or decided to leave on his own along a similar rationale) for expressing safety-related concerns... that doesn't sit well with me at all.

I know, we want a team that plays tough, and is tough, but yeesh. I'd be very, very interested to hear Drake's (the trainer that departed the program) perspective. He likely signed some type of NDA (non disclosure agreement, which is legally binding and prevents him from commenting on his work or the circumstances of his departure), but it would be a simple matter for WSU to waive the NDA so that we could get Drake's actual perspective. Though he might not be willing to provide it for fear of negatively impacting his own future.

At the end of the day, I feel like these allegations from unnamed sources within the program concerning the compromising of player safety should be treated very seriously, and I'll be interested to see if it leads anywhere from here. Love me some Cougar football, but player safety should come first and foremost.

Bill Drake, a former head football trainer at Washington State University, moved out of that job in midseason last year after expressing concerns to two senior administrators about "dangerously excessive" workouts, according to e-mails obtained from a public-records request. The worries, which were first reported by the sports site Deadspin, led to separate investigations by the university and the Pac-12 Conference. They found no wrongdoing.

But according to two sources close to the program, Mr. Drake butted heads with Mike Leach, the Cougars' head football coach, after failing to clear concussed players as fast as he and other coaches wanted. According to Mr. Drake's e-mails, Washington State kept concussed players out for an average of 8.2 days. (The NCAA does not mandate how long players should stay out or keep track of return-to-play times following concussions.)

Last year, 21 Cougars' football players suffered concussions between the start of the season, in August, and late October; in previous years, the team had averaged about 12 concussions annually. That increase—a result of more awareness about head injuries among players and coaches, Mr. Drake told colleagues—contributed to tensions with the coaching staff.

"There were so many athletes held out, it was a shock to the entire coaching staff," a person with knowledge of the situation told The Chronicle. Some coaches were convinced that trainers were being too soft on players, this source said, an approach that those coaches believed had contributed to the program's losing ways. (Neither Mr. Drake, who moved into more of an administrative role, nor Mr. Leach would comment on the record.)

Mr. Leach was fired by a previous employer, Texas Tech, after allegedly mistreating a player with a concussion and refusing to apologize for it. The coach has denied the allegations, saying he was dismissed over a contract dispute.


http://chronicle.com/article/Trainers-Butt-Heads-With/141333/

This FanPost does not necessarily reflect the views of the site's writers or editors, who may not have verified its accuracy. It does, however, reflect the views of this particular fan, which is just as important as the views of our writers or editors.

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