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

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

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While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

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Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.