UCF review ordered after player's death

Updated: March 27, 2009, 5:26 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The University of Central Florida football program's conditioning activities are rigorous "but within the range normal to other Division I football programs," according to a review ordered after a player died and another collapsed last year.

The review released Friday was done by an attorney hired by the university and recommended better communication between team physicians and the athletics department administration, an extra athletic trainer for football and an increased exposure to a nutritionist for players, among other things.

UCF president John Hitt ordered the review after the death of receiver Ereck Plancher last spring and the collapse of running back Brandon Davis in December.

Attorney Mike Glazier, a former NCAA investigator, conducted the inquiry. The review did not investigate Plancher's death nor Davis' collapse, only the current state of the football program.

"I will take the recommendations that Mike did make and speak with the administration and see how we can improve ourselves," UCF coach George O'Leary said, reading from a prepared statement.

Plancher died after taking part in the team's "mat drills" during an offseason conditioning workout last March on the UCF campus. The workout was supervised by O'Leary and his staff.

Hitt said he was pleased with the results of the review and again stood by the practices of the football program.

A report from the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office showed Plancher had a sickle cell trait that caused problems with his red blood cells during physical exertion. The examination showed Plancher's heart began beating abnormally, and blood flow to the wide receiver's muscles and organs slowed or stopped.

Plancher's parents filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking damages in excess of $15,000, not including interest, costs and attorney's fees. The UCF Board of Trustees and the UCF Athletics Association are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

"We'll answer their lawsuit," Hitt said.

The report compared UCF's football program to other schools, reviewed workout and training activities and had complete access to the university's records, Glazier said. Coaches and football players were interviewed for the report, including Davis, but Glazier declined to disclose what the running back said.

Glazier said he recommended going from three to four athletic trainers dedicated solely to football, which he noted is the national average for a program UCF's size. He also recommended more frequent meetings with local paramedics.

"Our overall findings of the university's football practices and conditioning programs, sports medicine policies, procedures and practices are more than adequate and are within industry standards," Glazier said.

O'Leary has a 26-36 record in five seasons at UCF, including a 4-8 record this past season. He signed a 10-year contract extension in May 2006 that pays him $1 million annually. He also has a buyout clause that would cost UCF $5 million to change coaches unless there was just cause.

UCF athletic director Keith Tribble again stood by the coach.

"This is just a report that confirms what we already knew," Tribble said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press