Brandon Statement On Morris Incident

Submitted by Brian on September 30th, 2014 at 1:38 AM

In Full:

Ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of our student-athletes resides with each team's coach and with me, as the Director of Athletics. We are committed to continuously improving our procedures to better protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes.

I have had numerous meetings beginning Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday's football game regarding student-athlete Shane Morris. I have met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing Shane's care and determining his medical fitness for participation.

In my judgment, there was 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. 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.

I have worked with Darryl Conway, my associate athletic director for Student-Athlete Health and Welfare, to develop a detailed accounting of the events that occurred. Darryl is the person who oversees all athletic training personnel and serves as the liaison to the physicians we work with through the University of Michigan Health System and University Health Services.

It is important to note that our athletic trainers and physicians working with Michigan Athletics have the unchallengeable authority to remove student-athletes from the field of play. Michigan Athletics has numerous medical professionals at every football competition including certified athletic trainers and several physicians from various relevant specialties.

I, along with Darryl and our administrative and medical teams, have spent much of the last two days carefully reviewing the situation regarding Shane Morris. 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.

With his permission, I can share that Shane Morris suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of Saturday's game. He was evaluated for that injury by an orthopedic surgeon and an athletic trainer several times during the game. With each of these evaluations it was determined that his ankle injury did not prevent him from playing.

In the fourth quarter, Shane took a significant hit and stumbled after getting up. 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. However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane.

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 communications 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.

We have learned from this experience, and will continue to improve ways to keep our student-athletes' health and safety our number one priority.



September 30th, 2014 at 1:39 AM ^

I can't say much without burning a source but I do want to say that the informational parts of this were known to me this morning. There is a reason this took so long, and the medical staff should be commended.


September 30th, 2014 at 7:54 AM ^

he is Sergeant Schultz.

If you had asked me two months ago if Hoke would be let go for not caring about one of his student athletes, and then openly lying about it to the press (not just being cagey), I wouldn't believe you. This is just like the Gibbons incident, in that he attempts to navigate a sticky issue by throwing a red herring out there and then claiming he doesn't or didn't know the truth.

Yesterday he said Shane would have practiced if it weren't for a high ankle sprain on Sunday. I think he also was cornered into saying Shane does not have a concussion.

Does anyone now believe Gibbons' "injury" was keeping him from playing in the Ohio State game?

I am now convinced that the heated discussion with Brandon and Nuss in the coaches room was the beginning of the cover up. The  conclusion was Hoke was to play Sergeant Schultz at the post-game conference to buy time to weave the story. Then the first statement was a trial balloon to see if they could get away with not addressing the concussion concern.

IF AT ANY TIME ON SUNDAY Dave Brandon had released the statement above, this would be a non issue. SINCE football head trauma is a hot button general public issue (as further heightened by the release yesterday that Jovan Belcher had CTE), their usual bluster tactic didn't work and the story blew up, resulting in a second attempt to delay and be deceptive at Brady Hoke's press conference yesterday.

There is no way Hoke didn't know on Sunday that Morris had a concussion. He lied yesterday in an attempt to cover up what they have now admitted to - lack of communication endangered one of our players. If he didn't know - and I don't believe it given the heat of the issue - he should have found out: before practice yesterday, and certainly before he released any statements to the press and his press conference. (Just like Goodell should have insisted on getting that Ray Rice security tape and watching it.)

Brian is correct: these are not the type of people we want running Michigan Football. They need to go. So does the PR staff, or whoever is the one who sets the strategy for the releases and has final signoff authority.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:32 AM ^

Even if he did not know for sure, as a leader he should have made sure he is saying the right thing to the press on such a controversial issue.

If you say straight out "he did not have a concussion" then you better make damn sure that is true.  You don't take some PR hack's word for it, you talk directly to the neurologist.  Otherwsie you say nothing.


September 30th, 2014 at 10:35 AM ^

Regardless of the jackassery of the AD, Hoke has a moral responsibility to his players to know what's going on with their health and well-being. He should have made every effort to find out how Shane was doing, whether he'd been diagnosed with a concussion or not, how he was doing emotionally after that disaster of a first regular-season start, how his ankle was doing, etc.

Hoke clearly didn't do so because the program wanted to preserve plausible deniability for him at Monday's presser. And that's unacceptable, because that means they put the political health of the program and its leadership over the basic human responsibility Hoke had to that young man.

Can you imagine Canham telling Bo not to check in on the health of one of his players on Sunday so that he could pretend ignorance to the media on Monday?


September 30th, 2014 at 3:50 AM ^

Per the statement:


"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. "


There is no possible way this is true. There is no chance an injury report isn't handed up immediately to the head coach. There is no chance that report would take more than 24 hours to reach the coach. This is a bag of lies by the AD, carefully crafted to try and wiggle out of responsibility. 


September 30th, 2014 at 4:59 AM ^

You must have never worked in a bureaucracy before to believe "There is no possible way this is true." As far as the AD trying to "wiggle out of responsibility" doesn't this make the athletic department as a whole look worse?


September 30th, 2014 at 6:50 AM ^

It certainly does make the athletic department look worse.  But it seems wildely improbable that they wouldn't have updated Hoke on the situation (or that he wouldn't have asked) prior to the press conference, since it was obvious that the concussion diagnosis was going to be the only thing the press was going to ask about.  Maybe Brandon directed that Hoke not be informed to make him the fall guy.  But otherwise Hoke not knowing under the circumstances makes no sense whatsoever.  


September 30th, 2014 at 7:14 AM ^

It seems quite a bit more improbable that Hoke would know and lie, especially in this day when everything gets out. See the NFL. Any chance we can all stop assuming the worst of Hoke because we want him fired.

Given his team's performance on the field, I think the most probable answer is clearly a lack of communication within the program.


September 30th, 2014 at 8:19 AM ^

Trying to look at this as objectively as I can, I'm not sure that he wouldn't under the circumstances. If Dave Brandon is asking him to lie or handing him a statement with lies on it, his job is on the line. If Hoke had a record that wouldn't justify his firing at the end of the season, I think it could possibly be different but I think that, since his seat is already hot, it's not at all unlikely that he would lie to appease his boss.

If I'm being honest, I don't know that I would do any differently.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:43 AM ^

would be worse than not doing his job---he's the effing Head Coach--he should have been all over the medical staff to find out the extent of Shane's injuries before he ever did the presser.  Can you imagine Bo leaving it up someone else?  The Sargeant Schultz reference above seems more and more apt.


September 30th, 2014 at 11:42 AM ^

"See the NFL" ? That's a great example of an organization lying through its teeth, despite the fact that objectively, people will find out. Nowadays you just shout your lies and drown everything in a bunch of confusing misinformation, like this press release. Just get some plausible denibility and shrug. The fact that you instinctively respond by thinking such lies are too outlandish to be real makes them even better lies!

I don't know what happened, but I'm inclined to think it's IMPOSSIBLE that Hoke didn't know by Monday. Put yourself in his shoes, after what happened Saturday, after all the press on Sunday -- you know what you're getting at that Monday press conference. Who in their right mind would go out there without at least talking to the medical people first?! This is independent of the fact that the medical report on his injured player (you know, the freaking STARTING QB from the last game) would probably be something he'd be interested in?

It does, however, make quite a bit of sense why he'd go on lying about it, if he thought they were going to be able to suppress the concussion report somehow. That may be a terrible interpretation for Hoke, but at this point, I think it's more likely.

Ed: One more thing: if he really didn't know, surely he knew it was possible. So when he says he would have practiced on Sunday, and there was no concussion issue, rather than just say that he doesn't know -- that's inexcusible.


September 30th, 2014 at 8:00 AM ^

and kept asking until he got a direct answer.

I don't care if he knew or not, everyone else around Michigan Football knew Saturday night, and certainly Sunday that this was a major PR issue (not to mention player health). He should have fucking asked. He should have made fucking sure before he opened his mouth at 12:38 yesterday.

If he didn't know, it was intentional. If he did know, he lied.



September 30th, 2014 at 9:39 AM ^


Think about it . . . you are going to go in front of the media and address a hot-button issue that has reached a national boiling point, without actually knowing what you intend to proclaim is true?

You sit eyeball to eyeball with the neurologist, nobody else, and you find out exactly what happened.  Until you do, you say nothing.

matty blue

September 30th, 2014 at 9:43 AM ^

...there is no way on god's green earth that a head coach - ANY head coach - wouldn't have straight-out ASKED the medical staff:  "hey, guys, i'm starting to think about this game thing i've got going saturday night - any chance my current starting quarterback might not be available?  i know he got carted off the field yesterday, just wondering how he's feeling."

burn baby burn.



September 30th, 2014 at 7:42 AM ^

Well, either Hoke was lying or Brandon is lying about one part of it. Hoke said he had not had any discussions with Brandon about it. The statement says Brandon had meetings with everyone involved, beginning Sunday morning. Would he really leave the head coach to last? If Hoke lied about that, why wouldn't he lie about everything else?

Blue in Yarmouth

September 30th, 2014 at 10:35 AM ^

I think the most plausible explanation is that DB thought he could bully the medical staff into saying he didn't have a concussion. I think that it iwhy it took him so long to release a statement, because he didn't mind throwing BH out there to lie to the press, but there was no way he was going to do that until he knew what the medical staff was going to say. Once he found he couldn't strong-arm them into "toeing the party line" he knew the jig was up and tried to make excuses.

I said this would happen at the beginning. As a doctor I know the oathes we take and most (and I stress most) take those seriously. We also know that we can take our expertise anywhere in the world and have no trouble finding a job. Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke on the other hand, don't have a hope in hell of getting hired again at their chosen profession if it is shown that they are incompetenet at their job, so doing whatever it takes to keep it isn't surprising. I knew that if asked, the medical staff would tell this clown where to shove it. Well done people. Leave these two jokers to flap in the wind. 

MI Expat NY

September 30th, 2014 at 9:39 AM ^

Didn't he say in his presser that but for his ankle injury Morris would have practiced yesterday?  That leads me to conclude that he lied and thought the medical staff statement was going to back him up.  I just don't buy that the medical staff told him he couldn't go because of the ankle and didn't mention that he also had a concussion.  


September 30th, 2014 at 11:45 AM ^

But he didn't say he didn't know. He said explicitly that Morris would have practiced Sunday if not for the ankle. He actively refuted concerns about a concussion, he did not claim to be agnostic. He was clearly mendacious.


September 30th, 2014 at 8:40 AM ^

Hoke because of his position as head coach of the Michigan football team has a high profile with the world and his behavior is a VERY poor reflection on the University of Michigan, including his press conference where he appears to have made up information. He claimed Morris didn't have a concussion but as head coach he would have known his condition by Monday or earlier. I have always loved the University of Michigan but his behavior makes me ashamed of the university. Where is the action on the part of the university to say this is not acceptable behavior by a staff member and representative of the university. He is no role model for devloping young men, just make up sonething to cover your ass when on the spot, instead of honesty. I think if the university doesn't take a strong stand on this issue, it will be remembered as an ill reflection on the university, that someone higher up than Brandon has not spoken out. If someone like myself who loves the university will see it differently now, how will the rest of the world react? Dignity and honesty in these situations is everything especially when dealing with a universtiy's reputation. By the way, Nussemeier is wearing a headset during the game, why didn't he report it to the appropriate personnel?


September 30th, 2014 at 8:58 AM ^

if you read the whole thing and the presser then the claims he made weren't untrue. 

He said Morris had not been diagnosed with a concussion yet that he knew of. Brandon's statement said that Shane's mild concussion was not apparent from the immediate post game full evaluation they gave him, and it took 2 subsequent ones to get that diagnoses which Hoke wasn't yet aware of during his press conference Monday. 


September 30th, 2014 at 10:52 AM ^

On behalf of PR people everywhere, there's plenty of us who think this is just as horrible as everybody else does. (Honestly, when there's stonewalling and obfuscation it's far more often from the lawyers than from the PR team. We're communicators, we want to communicate.)

Sadly, UMAD has failed Crisis Communications 101:

  • Admit what happened
  • Apologize
  • Explain how you're fixing it
  • Explain what you're doing to keep it from happening again
  • Apologize again
  • Shut up

The form of that response is superficially there in Brandon's statement (read it again with the above bullets in mind) but the overarching thing the statement lacks is truthfulness. I've been doing this for almost 20 years and I've never knowingly lied -- not just because it's wrong, but also because what your parents told you is still true. You will always get in more trouble for lying than for admitting what you did wrong in the first place. It just doesn't work.

Mark my words, this statement will absolutely come back to burn the department. Somebody somewhere knows what Brandon and Hoke knew and when they knew it and that's going to come out. And like every scandal from the Dreyfus Affair to Watergate to Monica Lewinsky to Teapot Dome to Iran-Contra and beyond, it'll be the instinctive, flailing coverup of something otherwise survivable that blows everything out of the water.


September 30th, 2014 at 10:29 AM ^

Reason #3483 to fire Brandon. He sent out a HC to a national press coverage unprepared and lacking information that you had. This is bad PR. And this lays solely on DB's head for how it was handled. He's a PR machine that left a coach to hang out and dry. Why would another coach ever want to come work for him after this? Reason enough he needs to go


September 30th, 2014 at 2:25 AM ^

Brandon = The Emperor

Hoke = Jar Jar Binks

Not sure how they relate oh yes I do Jar Jar got the Emperor into a position of power.

I don't know this doesn't make any sense all I know if thank you to the medical staff and Hoke and Brandon better be packing some bags and leaving on a jet plane sometime soon.

The game is over.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:44 AM ^

Are you reading between the lines and thinking based on Brian's comments that that is what happened . . . that the medical staff was pressured to shade the story and would not budge?

Is that what you thinked happened?


September 30th, 2014 at 10:04 AM ^

M-dog, Brian implied that all day yesterday was a struggle between management and the medical staff. There is no struggle if everyone is in the same page. Plus, Brandon minimizes the incident by calling it a "mild" concussion. Concussions aren't categorized any more. A concussion is a concussion is a concussion. The medical staff, especially a neurologist who specializes in concussion, wouldn't call it anything else.

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