Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon released a statement in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday about the way Shane Morris' concussion was handled, and its timing and content raised as many questions as it answered.
After two days of hemming and hawing, Brandon is the first person affiliated with Michigan to admit that Morris had a concussion, saying that medical staff had diagnosed Morris with a "probable, mild concussion" Sunday. But Brandon listed a series of extenuating circumstances that prevented the team's medical staff from realizing this during or following the game, saying that the "probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear" in the heat of the moment.
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... 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.
Brandon listed further communication issues that prevented coach Brady Hoke from learning about the diagnosis before a Monday press conference, when the coach claimed Morris' injury was merely an ankle sprain. Brandon says the team has identified the issues that led to insufficient communication and will fix them in the future.
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.
Going forward, we have identified two changes in our procedures that we will implement immediately:
We will have an athletic medicine professional in the press box or video booth to ensure that someone will have a bird's eye view of the on-field action, have television replay available and have the ability to communicate with medical personnel on the sidelines.
We are also examining how to reinforce our sideline communication processes and how decisions will be made in order to make sure that information regarding student-athlete availability to participate is communicated effectively amongst the medical team and to our coaches.
The way Brandon's statement released is peculiar. Hoke had delivered his press conference at noon, claiming he would be vindicated by a release from the school's medical staff. Michigan journalists waited on this release ... and waited on this release ... and waited on it. What they got was not a medical release, but rather this statement from Brandon, which it should be noted came in the middle of the damn night.
To summarize: This is a 1 a.m. press release admitting that a player was allowed to play with a concussion. Its contents contradict the statements that player's head coach gave about 12 hours before, and boils down to saying those who were watching couldn't see the quarterback take a massive hit.
This is apparently the story Michigan is sticking with. I have a funny feeling we have not heard the end of this story.