Friday, May 3, 2013

Injured Gamecocks player: School abandoned me

Former South Carolina defensive tackle Stanley Doughty is the key figure in this Atlantic story taking the NCAA to task for not better regulating healthcare for student-athletes.

Specifically, Doughty says he was abandoned by the Gamecocks after NFL doctors discovered he had a spine injury he thinks was suffered during his South Carolina playing days.

Now, he says he is disabled and unable to afford surgery or to return to school to complete his degree.

Another example in the story is former Oklahoma basketball player Kyle Hardrick, who says the Sooners, under then-coach Jeff Capel (now a Duke assistant), pushed him out after he suffered a knee injury, and wouldn't pay for his medical care.

Capel, to his credit, wrote a letter on Hardrick's behalf after Capel had left Oklahoma, but the school declined to declare Hardrick a medical hardship case.

From the Atlantic's story:

Stories like Doughty's and Hardrick's speak to the larger paradox of college sports, wherein players are treated like employees of their institutions—but don't get paid or receive the same benefits as recognized workers. Let's say the athletic director walks through the stands, slips on spilled soda and breaks his leg. Because he is considered an employee of the university, worker's compensation will cover any costs, short and long-term. But if a player 15 feet away breaks his leg on the field, running a play at the coach's request, the school has no legal or financial obligations since he is considered a student-athlete, not an employee.

Few of these stories come to light, and the Atlantic points at that some, and perhaps most, schools treat their athletes' medical needs fairly. But few athletes ask about medical care when they are being recruited, and are left to take the school's word.

An interesting, if long, read, but worth your time.

-- Mike Persinger