Toxicology report: five different painkillers found in body of Austin Box

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The tragic passing of Austin Box has taken another heartbreaking turn, with the parents of the Oklahoma linebacker releasing details of the state medical examiner’s report into their son’s death.

According to the state toxicology report, there were five different painkillers in Box’s system at the time of his death.  The specific painkillers found by the medical examiner were not noted in media accounts of the toxicology report.

In an emotional interview with the Daily Oklahoman that’s a must-read — and a Kleenex or two is a must-have if you must read it — Box’s parents, the paper writes, “seriously doubt long-term addiction, and they do not believe for a moment that it was suicide.”  Craig and Gail Box are also unaware of “any painkillers prescribed to him by a doctor at the time of his death.”

Box was found unresponsive by a friend on May 19 and was unable to be revived.  The initial police report noted that the friend thought Box had overdosed, with the friend also telling the 911 dispatcher prior to the arrival of police and emergency medical personnel that Box “takes pain pills”.

In addition to the newspaper interview, the grief-stricken parents also released a statement regarding their son and the report into his death.  And, again, make sure there’s a tissue or two within arm’s reach if you read it all the way through to the end:

There is no greater pain than the loss of a child. The pain is intensified by knowing that the death of your child could have been prevented. Austin was a young man who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was grateful for his many talents, and felt he must always live up to his gifts. Two words he spoke often say so much, “Of course”. It did not matter who was asking, whether it be a fan asking for an autograph, or simply a stranger wanting to talk — the response was a smile and “Of course.” His greatest fear was letting down other people whether it was his teammates, coaches, friends, or family. In his twenty-two years of life, he never thought to complain because he felt he had been given so much.

Our son endured many injuries during the last seven years of his life, most of them required surgery. The last was the most frightening for him. In August of the 2010 season, he had a disc rupture in his back, and he lost the feeling in his left foot. We were certain his career was over. As always though, he battled back when he saw the team needed him. Willing his battered body back to the field where only the most elite do battle. It is with much sadness; we look back and see that recently Austin had turned to other methods of managing his pain. Methods that we hope if others are employing, they will see this tragic accident as a message and think about the consequences. Our greatest regret is that Austin did not feel he could share his pain with those who loved him, and those he touched. He chose to suffer in silence rather than to feel he let someone down, or hurt his family.

We will forever love, honor, and cherish his memory. Thank you to all of those who have shared stories about how Austin touched your lives in a positive way. We are comforted by the knowledge that God knows what is in a man’s heart. Anyone that knew Austin would give testament to his pure heart. The love and pride we feel for our son cannot be diminished by the cause of his death. He gave us so much joy and so many wonderful memories. He will forever be “Mommy’s baby” and “Daddy’s little boy”.

With much grief and sadness,
Craig and Gail Box

Ex-Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu has sexual assault conviction overturned by appeals court

Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP
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Former Baylor and Boise State football player Sam Ukwuachu has had his conviction for sexual assault overturned, but he is far from free just yet. The 10th Couth of Appeals in Texas overturned a sexual assault conviction on Thursday and is sending the case back to district court for a brand new trial.

The Court of Appeals determined phone evidence used by the prosecution was improperly used and attained.

“In six issues, Ukwuachu complains that the trial court erred by allowing the State to reference the cell phone records of his roommate during its cross-examination of his roommate and his roommate’s friend, that the indictment was defective, that evidence of an extraneous offense was improperly admitted, that his due process rights were violated due to an abuse of the grand jury process by the State, and that text messages between the victim and a friend of hers the night of the alleged offense were improperly excluded,” an elaborate ruling from the Court of Appeals explained. “Because we find that the trial court erred by disallowing the admission of evidence … we reverse the judgment of conviction and remand this proceeding for a new trial.”

“While I respect the 10th Court of Appeals, I disagree with their decision and reasoning in this case,” McLennan County District Attorney Abelk Reyna said upon learning of the appeal decision. “I am extremely confident in the decisions made by our prosecutors and the rulings made by Judge Johnson in the trial of this case.”

Ukwuachu transferred from Boise State to Baylor after being dismissed by the Broncos program in 2013, reportedly following a case of depression in Boise. Boise State denied any knowledge of Ukwuachu’s violence toward women when he was with the program, which was prompted by comments from former Baylor head coach Art Briles. Former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen did claim to have informed Briles of Ukwuachu’s violent past.

Ukwuachu was found guilty and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation for rape in August 2015.

The alleged victim of Ukwuachu has already settled a lawsuit with Baylor.

Arkansas state senate votes to revise concealed gun law to prevent guns in football stadiums

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One day after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill to allow concealed guns to be carried into football stadiums, the state senate voted to make an exemption to block guns on game day.

The house bill that was signed into law by the governor this week would have allowed those with proper training to be allowed to bring a concealed handgun into an otherwise restricted area such as a football stadium. The bill overruled any stadium policies banning weapons as well, but that will no longer be the case.

According to the Associated Press, the Arkansas state senate voted 22-10 in favor of an exemption to the rule that would uphold a weapons ban in football stadiums throughout the state. The law will still allow those with the proper training to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses, in bars and government buildings, but football stadiums are off limits.

The amended bill still must pass through the House of Representatives in Arkansas.

Second Vols player this week could be on his way out

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Attrition is hitting Tennessee’s depth on the defensive side of the ball this early on in the spring.

Tuesday, reports surfaced that safety Stephen Griffin had decided to transfer out of Butch Jones’ Volunteers football program.  Two days later, it appears one of Griffin’s former teammates, linebacker Gavin Bryant, is headed toward a similar departure.

The football program has not addressed Bryant’s with the Vols moving forward.

A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Bryant (pictured, taking a knee to the helmet) was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, Bryant played in 21 games the past two seasons as a reserve linebacker.

Griffin, meanwhile, was a three-star 2015 prospect who played in 10 games last season. He started one of those contests.

D-II head coach to reportedly take RBs coach job at Syracuse

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It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.

FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.  Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.