Consequences Flowing Uphill: Michigan AD Brandon Resigns

Today marks the day that Michigan AD Dave Brandon resigned. Happy Halloween, Dave. Wildly popular when he was first appointed in 2010, Brandon had mixed reviews as to his time on the job. To be sure he did many things right; he fired an unpopular coach, cut ticket prices to encourage students to return to the empty seats and moved the basketball games to a better venue.

Dave BrandonHowever, in talking to diehard Michigan fans, people who are really invested in the football team, they were not surprised or shocked at the resignation. Part of the problem, of course, is that the team currently boasts a miserable 3-5 record. Fans want Coach Brady Hoke out of there; but that is understandable and predictable. The reason the fans gave me was surprising at first – the loss to Minnesota, when quarterback Shane Morris suffered a head injury and was allowed to go back into the game.

Flowing uphill

It is arguable that Brady Hoke did not know what was going on when his QB suffered a concussion. The sidelines of a football game in a packed stadium is a crazy place but Hoke’s assistants knew what had happened; the trainers knew; the offensive coordinator probably knew; the offense knew. Someone made the decision to put the wobbling sophomore quarterback with the concussion back in and the negative consequences rolled up to Hoke.

It didn’t stop there.

The bad press flowed right up to Dave Brandon.

At the center of it all is something called the “Concussion Protocol.” These are guidelines specifically designed to protect players whether on a D-1 men’s football team or a D-3 women’s volleyball team. If a player suffers a head injury and shows the signs and symptoms of a concussion, the player must be removed from the game and evaluated. This is not a gray area and it is not contingent on whether your team is winning or losing, or the color of the uniforms or whether it is sunny or raining. If your player is concussed, she or he must be evaluated.

Even if Dave Brandon was not within 500 miles of the game, the fallout from the failure to immediately “invoke” the protocol and the tepid response to what had occurred, flowed uphill to Brandon’s office.

It comes down to ethics.

Someone on the sidelines knew and someone on the sidelines did nothing. It was not reported, it was not moved up the chain of command and when it was realized what had happened, Dave Brandon did not come down on the entire coaching staff like a ton of bricks.

It was a choice or rather a series of bad choices. Once Shane Morris was hit, and it was obvious he had suffered a head injury, the player had no say in the matter – and it’s arguable he was not rationale enough to have much of a say in any case.

No one will remember

In 10 years, Michigan’s lousy season, the loss to Minnesota and even Dave Brandon’s resignation will be largely forgotten. The concussion, and the lack of response to the concussion will be remembered. Poor ethics have a way of being remembered.

It was a simple decision, and an unfortunate choice that flowed all the way uphill.

“You don’t send a kid back in with a concussion,” said one of the diehard Michigan fans.

He was right.

The landscape is changing, and who knows what football will look like in a decade from now? One thing is clear, business as usual will no longer be business as usual. Athletic standouts on Saturdays will no longer become broken discards on Sundays. The game will change and the people playing the game will adapt.

Only good ethics will remain.



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