CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/AP) — The issue of player health and safety is just as important at the collegiate level as it is in the pros.
Upset by the notion they would use a concussed player, Miami officials said Monday that Tonye Jekiri returned to the Hurricanes’ game against Louisville over the weekend only after being cleared by a Cardinals team doctor.
Jekiri was shaken up after Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell threw a ball in his face late in the first half of what became the Cardinals’ 55-53 victory on Saturday. A Miami trainer suspected Jekiri may have been concussed, and the Hurricanes said Louisville’s doctor then checked him.
After the game, Louisville coach Rick Pitino questioned why “that Miami doctor” would have allowed Jekiri to return if a concussion was suspected. That comment and others in Pitino’s postgame news conference raised Miami’s ire, and prompted Hurricanes athletic director Blake James to say so on Monday.
“Our medical team and trainers at the University of Miami are among the very best in the country and any suggestion otherwise is way off base,” James said.
The Cardinals play at Georgia Tech on Monday night.
“We are not permitted to provide any medical information on another institution or its participants,” Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein said Monday. “Coach Pitino’s comments were based on information he received from the game officials.”
Harrell told reporters after the game that his momentum was carrying him out of bounds, though replays show he landed inbounds by what appeared to be at least a couple feet. He threw the ball at Jekiri’s head from close range, instead of the customary aim-for-the-leg tactic most players use when falling out of bounds and trying to richochet the ball off an opponent.
Harrell drew a technical foul, and Miami coach Jim Larranaga said Monday that Atlantic Coast Conference officials have since told him they believe the call was proper.
“He seems to be doing fine right now,” Larranaga said Monday when asked about Jekiri, the ACC’s rebounding leader this season.
Larranaga said he exchanged emails with ACC basketball officiating coordinator John Clougherty, who assured him the play was reviewed and handled appropriately by the crew at Saturday’s game.
“I’m good with that,” Larranaga said.
Pitino said after Saturday’s game that Larranaga told officials while they reviewed the play it was Miami’s belief that Jekiri was concussed. Jekiri was not on the floor for the first few minutes of the second half while being evaluated.
“I just called (Louisville football coach) Bobby Petrino and said get ahold of that Miami doctor, because in 15 minutes, a kid went from a concussion to playing and totally healthy,” Pitino said Saturday. “So we’re sending a plane down to hire that doctor and get him out for football.”
James said Miami is certain protocols were followed in allowing Jekiri to return.
He was “cleared to return to play after being examined not only by our trainer but by a team doctor for the University of Louisville,” James said. “Ultimately, it was the Louisville team doctor who cleared our student-athlete to return to competition.”
Asked if Miami would ever allow a concussed player to participate, James said “no.”
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