Medical Issue for Pitt Players

From the Post-Gazette:

Five Pitt players to miss season due to medical conditions

Pitt defensive tackle (rsJR) Justin Moody and incoming freshman defensive back (FR) George Hill will no longer play football due to a non-football-related cervical spine condition and a preexisting cardiac condition, respectively, the school announced Friday.

Additionally, tight end (SO) Chris Clark and offensive lineman (rsSO) Mike Grimm will miss this season after undergoing knee and hip surgery, respectively, while freshman defensive lineman (FR) Zack Gilbert will miss the season due to a cardiac condition.

“Each of these young men are very passionate about the game of football and our heart goes out to them,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said in a prepared statement. “Although they will not be able to play this fall, each of them will remain an active and important part of our family. They are, and will always be, Panthers. We are going to make sure they continue to benefit from a University of Pittsburgh education and being an important member of our football program.”

Note – Hill was a four star recruit and was looking at fighting for legit playing time in the defensive backfield;  Grimm was 3rd string at OL; Moody was 2nd string at NT and Gilbert would have redshirted. 

Clark had to sit out anyway as a transfer.  That kid seems a bit jinxed.

36 thoughts on “Medical Issue for Pitt Players

  1. From a selfish fan viewpoint, I hate to see Hill’s promising career apparently over and of course sad for all 5 players.

    But glad that (1) for some, they were diagnosed before anything more serious could occur and (2) they all will get excellent treatment (both medically and academically)

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  2. And so goes the argument whether George Hill plays offense or defense.

    I don’t see Gilbert returning in a year. Probably the same for Grimm.

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  3. Terrible news for all these kids. I expect Gilbert to be done as well. Most won’t consider Moody a loss since he wasn’t Aaron Donald, but he was at an age when lineman make a jump as players. Grimm I suspect won’t play again either, but Herndon and Dintino were moved to the O-line for a reason.

    Clark’s injury hurts his development as he’ll be rehabbing instead of practicing.

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  4. Terrible news but I also agree that it’s a great thing these serious ailments were vetted out and the young men can receive the medical attention they need. Sounds very serious and I’m happy that PITT will do their best to take care of these PITT Panther football players.

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  5. Never realized that sports physicals were so thorough. I always assumed it was bend over and touch your toes, touch your finger to your nose, turn your head and cough, now go play ball.
    Cudos to Pitt for taking care, of these kids.

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  6. You know not all schools offer a parallel four year scholarship for players with career ending injuries. Pitt always has and still does and it comes out of the Athletic Fund:

    MEDICAL EXEMPTION (from the NCAA Manual)

    A medical exemption can be given to an athlete who suffers an injury or illness that ends their career. It ensures that, for their remaining eligibility, they receive all the financial aid they would have received before the medical problem. A medical exemption does not count against the program’s scholarship limit (for football, it is 85), but is still paid for from the program’s budget. If the injury occurs during a season, that player still does count against the scholarship limit. Once the season ends, they can be moved to medical exemption and another scholarship is freed up.

    But a lot of schools don’t…

    This is a good read on the subject:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/05/i-trusted-em-when-ncaa-schools-abandon-their-injured-athletes/275407/

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  7. Wow, what a bummer, for Pitt, for the various kids and for me. As George Hill was rated one of the top players (as high as #6) in the very rich talent state of Ohio. I was really looking forward to see if my hunch about him becoming a very dynamic player on the order of Tyler Boyd. A real shame for everyone involved.
    And on top of that another one of our better recruits, Sean Gilbert’s son. Oy vey !

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  8. Oy vey indeed Emel, Oy vey indeed…

    For Hill and Gilbert I am obviously glad their conditions were discovered before something devastating may have happened.

    As far as football goes, tough to remember that much bad news in a single press release.

    Not sure about Moody’s ranking, I want to say 2 star. Grimm and Gilbert are both 3 stars and play positions that always need talent and depth. Pitt is especially in need of it on the DL. Clark was rated the top TE in the entire country coming out of high school, a position Pitt is also thin at. Clark’s injury seems the least likely to effect his career, but it has been quite some time since he has played any kind of meaningful time, and this will allow even further rust to develop that he will be challenged to work off.

    George Hill’s condition is especially depressing. For him personally at such a young age to have a legitimate shot at earning millions of dollars, taken from him in an instant, I can only imagine. From a Pitt football standpoint, it is as equally depressing. This is a kid that had the makings of a star. Talented enough to excel at multiple positions, it’s really a shame, was looking forward to 3 or 4 years of watching this young man become the next Pitt football great.

    Chris Dokish tweeted that if it weren’t for bad luck, Pitt would have no luck at all. It does sometimes seem that there is a black cloud over this program that just won’t go away…

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    1. I see it as just the opposite for both Hill and Gilbert. If these cardiac issues are as serious as one would assume as to eliminate the option of competing in the football program then thank God for their early diagnosis. We’d be happier to read the news flash that one of them collapsed on the field and died of an undiagnosed heart condition down the road in their career? This kind of revelation is a blessing in disguise.

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  9. Times like these should give a fan perspective. Even though you tend to want to complain because it hurts the team, whatever you feel it is 10 times worse for the player that has to be told he can’t play anymore. I feel horrible for them, especially because they probably worked so hard to even get to this point. Glad that Pitt takes care of its players with a scholarship even though they cannot be involved athletically anymore. You hope that someone like Justin Moody can turn it into a positive and use this opportunity to become a coach and continue his football career that way.

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  10. Unlike most everyone else, I garner no pride from graduation rates of student athletes (many of them inflated by such curricula as parks and recreation and turf management – oh sorry, wrong PA school); I believe graduation is on the shoulders of the athlete, not the university.
    But I do take great pride in my alma mater upholding their four year commitment to injured scholarship athletes, particularly those who have never sniffed the field.
    Recruits should consider that when they come to Pitt, the University truly cares about their well being.
    H2P

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  11. Pitt has a great medical team. Look how they helped James with cancer. Having so many smart docs walking the Pitt campus is a plus. I recall fondly the few times I had a few beers at Peter’s Pub with a few medical students who became doctors. Somehow I had more time for beers than they did. To all potential recruits, your mom’s will appreciate the fact you will be surrounded by the best medicine on planet. Tough news.

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  12. Really disappointed about Hill and Gilbert….as with the other guys. The Clark surgery isn’t as important though unless it affects his play next year.

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  13. Gilbert is done for the year & possibly his career. The doctors think there’s a chance his condition is treatable & he can play again, but aren’t willing to commit either way at this time. Does anyone know what the schollie numbers are at now?

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  14. What better teammate to have right now for these young guys than James Conner. Wow – glad the schollies are in place.

    Does anyone know if Hill’s condition prohibits his participation on the track team? If no contact, can he still run?

    Hate to lose any of the five – all favorite Pitt sons…..

    Regarding NP – good that he has the 4th ranked Power 5 O-line to protect him. Bold prediction – Orndorff and D.Ford will snag 70 catches each with a 3rd receiver stepping up with 30+. Possibly a running back.

    I’m ready for some football.

    HTP!

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    1. Love your comment Erie. J Conner can and will play a great role outside of football in these cases as a mentor. It may be the end of football for a few of the young men but not the end of their lives. How some things can happen that we just cannot understand but in the end, it can all add up.

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    2. It was reported that Hill suffers from an enlarged aorta, but I have no idea what that means. Perhaps it involves having an aortic aneurism, which is a life threatening condition for sure. No idea what an “enlarged aorta” actually infers however.

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  15. I met yesterday with an AD about this very issue as all football teams are going through this issue. They are seeing this more and more where kids from all sports are not disclosing medical issues prior to signing their respective LOI. When the university puts them thorough a comprehensive exam which includes a baseline for such things as concussions and other repetitive injuries, these issues bubble up. It is costly to programs budgets as most universities will honor the scholarship for four years only. They typically don’t give the injured athlete 5 years. It is four and you are out.

    Universities are too restricted from getting medical records prior to offering a binding scholarships. The kids get on campus and the trainers and physician’s are often in shock about what they learn. Some of this is kids manipulating the university and some are legitimate. I am talking all sports, just not football. A bigger issue hitting the college campus, with athletes in particular, is mental illness. Currently working on some legislation to allow universities to test, before binding the scholarship.

    As an example, there was a world ranked diver that received a 4 year schollie and couldn’t pass a physical because of cumulative trauma (concussions). Cost the university thousands in the national recruiting expense, a 4 year schollie (including room, board and other expenses). So who is at fault? It is one sided against the university.

    I feel horrible for these kids when it is legitimate. I wish them all well.

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  16. Same as all above…Very sorry to hear the news that these young men have such serious health issues, but as proud as I have ever been of dear ol Pitt for doing the right and honorable thing…My brother works for a billionaire that went to college to play football but blew out his knee so badly as a freshman he never played again. In going through the rehab process he became interested in physical therapy and made it his uber successful career. There is life after football and the sky is the limit for these young men.

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    1. Yep, life is what you make it. First priority remain alive. These kids have their entire life ahead of them. Redirect efforts into another avenue if the football aspect is prohibited.

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  17. If Hill’s condition is an enlarged aorta then the real threat is an aneurysms …

    *What type of physical restrictions do people with aortic aneurysms have?

    This depends on the size, location and medical problems of the person with the aortic aneurysm. General restrictions for all patients with thoracic aneurysms include; no snow shoveling, chopping wood, digging hard earth or using a sledgehammer. No pushing, pulling or lifting more than 30 lbs. Avoid contact sports or any activity that could cause a direct blow to the chest.*

    Which I think would rule out track events. This happens sometimes and we have seen instances where a player (seems like BB mostly) will just drop dead – more common with Black athletes I believe.

    Medical types please correct me if that is wrong.

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  18. Huff – I know I played in 95-97 so maybe this before this happened but we never had exams. No sports did. You just played. I tore my Shoulder against St. Johns. First surgery was a bust by a Pitt doc so my family helped me find James Andrews who is the best there is. I spent some time in Alabama. Pitt honored my scholarship for 5 years. Yes it took me 5 years. Haha. My injury ended my college career.

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    1. I was attending Ohio State at the time you were at Pitt and tOSU coach, Todd, had a son playing for the Buckeyes but he always wore a Pitt baseball hat on campus. I talked to him once and he said he was best friends with Pitt baseball player. Was that you by chance?

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  19. Not to speculate too much, but in reading the article, off the top of my head the medical conditions that would prohibit a kid from playing included hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease or anomalous vessels and prolonged Q-T interval.
    The dilated aorta of which Reed speaks is associated with Marfan’s syndrome…tall, skinny people (think Abr Lincoln)…and while George Hill may have an aortic root problem, he does not look Marfanoid.
    As for Gilbert, his condition may be structural (a hole in the chambers of the heart, or an abnormal coronary artery), or a dysrhythmia that can be treated with meds. There are certainly others, but given the possibility he may return, those are the ones that occur to me .

    Finally, if Hill’s condition is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or prolonged Q-T interval, strenuous exercise (track) and situations that increase catecholamines increase the risk of sudden death.

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  20. With the gazillion law suits these days, I wonder if Pitt could somehow be held liable, if they didn’t do medical exams on these players and then they go out and drop dead at practice or in a game. They probably could.

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  21. I am glad our excellent medical staff caught this before a tragedy. For the players , when one door closes another opens. I remember Pitt signing a fullback out of Virginia 10 or so years ago and he was hurt in a bad traffic accident and never played and Pitt honored the schollie. It makes me proud to be a Pitt grad. H2P.

    History – I believe Marfans is what some historians believe Abe Lincoln suffered from.

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  22. @UPITT- I agree about back in the day, you just show up and play. With all the litigation involving athletes, the major programs started baselining their scholarship athletes in about 2005. This was driven mainly by concussions. Universities are hamstrung because they can’t get medical records prior to enrollment on kids, so they offer schollies and take a chance.

    You bring up great memories for me. Spent a lot of time with Doc Andrews in Birmingham in the early 90’s. Was actually in the surgical suite with him for a professional athlete and I just about passed out as he hammered an elbow bone and extracted spurs through the tiniest of holes. It was gross!

    Last year, one major program offered a kid a schollie and he showed up on campus already having undergone 3 ACL repairs. The coaches were only aware of 1. They honored the schollie with a 4 year restriction, but never got an ounce of work out of the kid. He failed the physical. The diving example was another one that makes you shake your head!

    The bigger issue is mental illness. It’s an epidemic and will result in more off the field issues that won’t sit well with the general public. The issues continue to be more frequent.

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  23. Does anyone have any idea how all the other major college programs stand behind their sick and injured scholarship players? If Pitt stands head and shoulders above many of the top schools we recruit against, I would hope Narduzzi and crew are telling those recruits and their parents about our policy in this regard.

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  24. We do what everybody else does. As far as I know, there are no limits on how many kids go medical hardship and keep their schollies. Some max them out at 4 years to complete their degree requirements because the school is still on the hook to pay tuition, room and textbooks.

    The secondary issue and one that is more shady is giving players medical hardship so the team gets their scholarship back and the school pays for the education of a player that wasn’t producing. For the factories, they can sometimes create extra schollies each year by sending a few that route.

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  25. Sad news for all yet early diagnosis is always good for the patient. Wonder when coaches became aware of the exam findings and how long they have been revising their recruiting plans. Most schools might honor the 4 yr.scholie but how many have the world class medical svcs. that Pitt does in so many fields. Prayers for the boys and best to the team to overcome some key losses.

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