Report: Players to meet with UCF attorneys in death probe

Updated: April 25, 2008, 11:47 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Central Florida is interviewing football players as it continues to review the death of wide receiver Ereck Plancher, sources close to the program told the Orlando Sentinel.

Two UCF football players -- whom the newspaper granted anonymity because they said they fear retribution from coaches -- said the players were informed by team staff that they had to meet individually with university attorneys, according to the report.

Several of the interviews are expected to be conducted this week, before the players leave campus. Many of the players have final exams this week, according to the report.

"We are continuing to evaluate the events surrounding Ereck's death, as we have from the beginning," UCF spokesman Grant Heston said Thursday. But he declined to comment on the player interviews, the newspaper reported.

The university has also begun reimbursing Plancher's family for funeral expenses, according to the report.

The player interviews follow a report in the Sentinel earlier this month, in which four UCF players said Plancher showed signs of distress during the workout before he collapsed and died.

The players also said the workout was more intense than the university initially indicated, and that coach George O'Leary cursed at Plancher for a lack of effort following the drills -- an allegation O'Leary denied, according to the Sentinel.

Plancher, 19, of Naples, Fla., collapsed and was taken to a hospital on March 18. He was pronounced dead a half-hour after the workout, known as a "mat drill."

In the Sentinel report earlier this month, the four players said the workout in UCF's indoor field house, which followed an hour-long weight training session, included multiple agility exercises lasting five minutes each, two runs on a 200-yard obstacle course and two sideline-to-sideline sprints. They said Plancher fell during the final sprint, as coaches yelled at him to finish the drill.

Enock Plancher, Ereck's father, said the family is still awaiting a final autopsy report before deciding if it will pursue a lawsuit against the university. A preliminary autopsy was inconclusive and additional tests are being done.

According to several of Plancher's relatives and friends and his high school coach in Naples, the wide receiver said in the spring of 2007 that he had collapsed during an earlier UCF workout.

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