Michigan’s lack of communication on the sideline led to the mishandling of a head injury to quarterback Shane Morris on Saturday. As it turns out, Morris did suffer a concussion to go with a high ankle sprain. Michigan athletics director Dave Brandon says he has been thoroughly reviewing the situation the past few days and admits to 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,” Brandon said in the Michigan statement released overnight. “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.”
Morris was on the receiving end of a big hit from Minnesota defensive end Theiren Cockran. The hit appeared to leave Morris wobbly, but the quarterback appeared to wave off trainers for assistance and remained on the field. During his Monday press conference, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke suggested that “tells you something” about the competitive nature of the player. Hoke said he did not see the hit and believed Morris was playing through pain in his ankle, which was injured earlier in the game. He was cleared to play through the ankle injury by medical staff at the time. The statement from Michigan released overnight states nobody on the Michigan sideline saw the hit to Morris, which led to the lack of response for care for possible head trauma.
“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,” Brandon said. “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.”
Brandon said a team neurologist did not see the hit on Morris but did not notice the stumbling on the field. He determined Morris needed to be evaluated but because he did not see the hit he was unaware of the severity of the possible injury. Because he did not see the hit, the medical trainer cleared Morris to return to the field after just one play, which is what led to the whole mess blowing up in Michigan’s face the past few days.
Michigan’s statement does have some clarity and does explain how something like this could happen. If legit, it also raises some more questions. How did Brady Hoke not become aware of any of this internal reviewing when he went out for his Monday press conference? During his press conference on Monday Hoke said if not for the high ankle injury, Morris would have practiced with the team Sunday night. According to the Michigan statement, Morris was diagnosed with a mild concussion on Sunday. Did Hoke know that? If not, then why not? Hoke is still responsible for the actions of the football staff, including to a certain degree the medical staff. This does not clear Hoke entirely from guilt, but if we are to take this Michigan statement as the full and accurate explanation for what unfolded, Michigan left Hoke out to dry.
You can read the full statement from Brandon on Michigan’s website.