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INVESTIGATION I-1813

FINAL INVESTIGATORY REPORT


TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................... 1
FACTS, ISSUES, AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE……………………...……….. 1
RESPONDENT’S CURRENT APPOINTMENT .................................................................................. 1
CMU, MAC, AND NCAA POLICIES, PROCEDURES, RULES, AND
REGULATIONS PROTECTING STUDENT-ATHLETE HEALTH AND SAFETY ........................ 2
RESPONDENT REPEATEDLY REMINDED OF POLICIES, PROCEDURES,
RULES, AND REGULATIONS PROTECTING STUDENT-ATHLETE HEALTH ......................... 6

RESPONDENT’S RECENT HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION WITH


THE CMU SPORTS MEDICINE STAFF ............................................................................................. 6

CMU RECEIVES THE INSTANT COMPLAINT OF MISCONDUCT REGARDING


RESPONDENT’S INTERFERENCE IN A STUDENT-ATHLETE’S MEDICAL CARE ................. 8

2014-2019 CMU/CMUFA PROCESS FOR INVESTIGATING


COMPLAINTS OF MISCONDUCT AGAINST BARGAINING UNIT MEMBERS .......................... 9

CMU CONDUCTED A THOROUGH AND EXPANSIVE INVESTIGATION


OF THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST RESPONDENT .......................................................................... 10

FINDING OF MISCONDUCT ................................................................................................. 20

RESPONDENT VIOLATED CMU’S INDEPENDENT MEDICAL MODEL AS


INCORPORATED INTO THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT MADE BY ......... 21

RESPONDENT VIOLATED NCAA RULES AND REGULATIONS ................................................ 22

RESPONDENT COMMITTED EGREGIOUS MISCONDUCT BY


ATTEMPTING TO UNDERMINE THE CMU MILD TRAUMATIC
BRAIN INJURY CONCUSSION MANAGEMENT PLAN................................................................... 23

RESPONDENT CREATED AN ATMOSPHERE THAT IS HOSTILE AND


CONTRADICTORY TO THE AIMS OF THE CMU INDEPENDENT MEDICAL
MODEL AND THE TRAINING AND EXPERTISE OF THE SPORTS MEDICINE STAFF .......... 23

CONCLUSION & DISCIPLINARY DETERMINATION ...................................................... 24


Appendix A ............................................................................................................................................. 28

Appendix B ............................................................................................................................................. 33

Appendix C ............................................................................................................................................. 44

Appendix D ............................................................................................................................................ 47

Appendix E ............................................................................................................................................. 92

Appendix F ............................................................................................................................................. 98

Appendix G ............................................................................................................................................ 102

Appendix H… ........................................................................................................................................ 104

Appendix I .............................................................................................................................................. 110

Appendix J .............................................................................................................................................. 113

Appendix K… ........................................................................................................................................ 116

Appendix L ............................................................................................................................................. 119


April 3, 2019

Investigatory Report: Investigation I-1813


Respondent: Jerry Reighard, Head Gymnastics Coach
Employer: Central Michigan University

INTRODUCTION:

Central Michigan University (CMU) hired Jerry Reighard (Respondent) as Gymnastics


Head Coach on August 16, 1985. As Gymnastics Head Coach, Respondent is a bargaining
unit member of the Michigan Education Association (MEA) affiliated CMU Faculty
Association (Faculty Association). The 2014-2019 CMU/CMUFA Agreement (Agreement) along
with Respondent’s individual employment agreement governs Respondent’s employment
relationship with CMU. The Agreement provides various due process protections to bargaining
unit members when CMU investigated complaints of misconduct. These due process
protections are outlined in Article 16 of the Agreement. Article 15 of the Agreement also provides
that CMU will not discipline a bargaining unit member without “just cause.” The present
matter arises out of a complaint of misconduct against Respondent.

FACTS, ISSUES, AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE:

RESPONDENT’S CURRENT APPOINTMENT:

Respondent’s most recent appointment outlines his duties as follows, in pertinent part:

Duties. Coach shall, during the term of this Contract, perform


all duties and services of Gymnastics Head Coach as
prescribed by the University’s Director of Athletics
(“Director”) in accordance with the policies, practices and
regulations of University. . . . The duties of Coach shall
include, but not be limited to, the following:

A. Coach the University’s Gymnastics team, operating


within University, Mid-American Conference and
NCAA rules and guidelines and within the parameters
of the allocated budget.1

First and foremost, Respondent’s job is to coach gymnastics within the confines of CMU,
Mid-American Conference (MAC), and NCAA policies, procedures, rules, and regulations.
This point is further clarified later in Respondent’s individual employment agreement in the
section addressing termination, which states in pertinent part:

1See, Respondent’s individual employment agreement attached as Appendix A, emphasis added.

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Termination. Coach is required to comply with the policies,


practices and regulations of University and the rules and
regulations of the NCAA and the Mid-American Conference
as adopted and approved by University. Should Coach be
found in violation of any of these, Coach shall be subject to
disciplinary action or corrective action including those set forth
in the provisions of the NCAA enforcement procedures. Such
disciplinary or corrective action could include suspension
without pay for a period of time or termination of this
employment contract if Coach is found to be involved in
serious violations of these policies, practices, rules and
regulations.2

One of the most important aspects of Respondent’s employment at CMU is the


protection of, and respect for, student-athlete health and safety. Correspondence available to
investigators reveals that CMU repeatedly, over his career, reminded Respondent of the
importance of student-athlete health and safety both in training sessions and by means of more
affirmative counseling intervention when his performance in this area lapsed.

CMU, MAC, AND NCAA POLICIES, PROCEDURES, RULES, AND REGULATIONS


PROTECTING STUDENT-ATHLETE HEALTH AND SAFETY:

CMU is a Division I FBS member of the NCAA with conference affiliation in the
MAC. As part of CMU’s membership in the NCAA and affiliation with the MAC, CMU agrees
to various rules covering topics ranging from recruiting and student-athlete eligibility to
student-athlete health and safety and the ethical treatment of student-athletes. CMU
additionally institutes and adopts its own policies, procedures, rules, and regulations on various
topics.

NCAA Regulation on Independent Medical Care of Student-Athletes

The NCAA Sports Science Institute researched and developed an Interassociation


Consensus entitled Independent Medical Care for College Student-Athletes Best Practices.3
Following this Interassociation Consensus, the NCAA issued regulation 3.2.4.17, which states:

3.2.4.17 Independent Medical Care. [A] An active member


institution shall establish an administrative structure that
provides independent medical care and affirms the
unchallengeable autonomous authority of primary
athletics health care providers (team physicians and
athletic trainers) to determine medical management and
return-to-play decisions related to student-athletes. An
active institution shall designate an athletics health care
administrator to oversee the institution’s athletic health care

2 Id.
3 NCAA Sports Science Institute, Interassociation Consensus: Independent Medical Care for College Student-
Athletes Best Practices, attached as Appendix B.

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administration and delivery. (Adopted: 1/15/16 effective


8/1/16, Revised: 10/7/16)4

The NCAA additionally requires member institutions to designate a team physician for all or
each of its intercollegiate teams.5 The team physician shall be a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) with a current license in good standing to practice
medicine in the state in which the institution is located.6 The team physician is authorized to
oversee the medical services for injuries and illnesses incidental to a student-athlete’s
participation in intercollegiate athletics.7

Team Physician for Gymnastics at CMU is Dr. Noshir Amaria. Dr. Amaria joined
Central Michigan in September 2017, as a team physician for the CMU Athletics Department
and as an assistant professor of family medicine and sports medicine at CMU College of
Medicine. Dr. Amaria came to CMU after completing his primary care sports medicine
fellowship at St. John Providence/Providence Park Hospital in Novi, Michigan, in June, 2017.
During his fellowship, Dr. Amaria served as the team physician for Madonna University in
Livonia. Dr. Amaria received his doctorate from the Michigan State University College of
Osteopathic Medicine in 2011. He completed post-graduate training, his family-medicine
residency, and osteopathic manipulative medicine/neuromusculoskeletal medicine training at
Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. Dr. Amaria earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology
with a specialization in Athletic Training from Michigan State in 2004 and then served as a
graduate intern athletic trainer at Michigan State. He also worked as an athletic trainer for
Portland High School and is a licensed certified athletic trainer. Dr. Amaria holds professional
memberships in the National Athletic Trainers' Association, the American Osteopathic
Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of
Osteopathy, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, the American
Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine,
and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.

CMU Sports Medicine Independent Medical Model

In compliance with the Interassociation Consensus and NCAA regulation 3.2.4.17,


CMU instituted the Central Michigan University Sports Medicine: Independent Medical
Model.8 The Independent Medical Model is the foundation of Athlete-Centered Healthcare
and Wellness. CMU’s Independent Medical Model states in pertinent part:

All designated medical staff including Athletic Trainers, Team


Physicians (MD/DO) should have unchallenged authority in
developing care plans and participation status as it relates to
injury or illness At no time should any nonmedical staff
member of the Central Michigan University Athletics
Department attempt to influence the health care of

4 NCAA Regulation 3.2.4.17, emphasis added.


5 NCAA Regulation 3.2.4.16.
6 Id.
7 Id.
8 Central Michigan University Sports Medicine: Independent Medical Model, attached as Appendix C.

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individual Student-Athletes, without proper[ly] and


professionally engaging the Medical Team.9

To safeguard the requisite independence of the designated medical staff, CMU places the
employment of the Medical Director and Head Team Physician outside the Department of
Intercollegiate Athletics.10 All Athletic Trainers are employed within the Athletics Department
and operate under the oversight of the Medical Director and Team Physicians. 11 Athletic
Trainers report to the Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine who acts as the NCAA
Athletics Health Care Administrator for CMU. 12 In this case, a Student Athletic Trainer,
Kelsey Aldworth (Student Trainer Aldworth), was also involved in the facts giving rise to the
instant complaint.

CMU’s Independent Medical Model adopts an institution wide athlete-centered


healthcare model that operates with, what is expected to be, unchallenged autonomy and
oversight by the designated Medical Director and Assistant Athletic Director for Sports
Medicine. This model provides an industry “best practice” environment intending to ensure
high-quality care of injury and illness and is specifically intended to mitigate medical-legal risk
to all parties who work with CMU student-athletes.

Dr. Jennifer Trpkovski is Medical Director at CMU. Dr. Noshir Amaria is the Team
Physician for Gymnastics at CMU. Brian Wiese, MS, AT, ATC, is the Assistant Athletic
Director of Sports Medicine and the designated NCAA Athletics Health Care Administrator
at CMU. Kristen Jackson (Trainer Jackson), MS, AT, ATC is the Assistant Athletic Trainer
assigned to Gymnastics.

NCAA Regulation on Concussion Management

The NCAA requires active member institutions to have a concussion management


plan for its student-athletes. NCAA regulation 3.2.4.18 states:

(a) An annual process that ensures student-athletes are


educated about the signs and symptoms of concussions.
Student-athletes must acknowledge that they have
received information about the signs and symptoms of
concussions and that they have a responsibility to report
concussion-related injuries and illnesses to a medical staff
member;

(b) A process that ensures a student-athlete who exhibits


signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a
concussion shall be removed from athletics activities (e.g.,
competition, practice, conditioning sessions) and
evaluated by a medical staff member (e.g., sports medicine

9 Id.Emphasis added.
10 Id.
11 Id.
12 Id.

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staff, team physician) with experience in the evaluation


and management of concussions;

(c) A policy that precludes a student-athlete diagnosed with a


concussion from returning to athletics activity (e.g.,
competition, practice, conditioning sessions) for at least
the remainder of that calendar day; and

(d) A policy that requires medical clearance for a student-


athlete diagnosed with a concussion to return to the
athletics activity (e.g., competition, practice, conditioning
sessions) as determined by a physician (e.g., team
physician) or the physician’s designee.

Member institutions’ concussion management plans must be consistent with the


Interassociation Consensus: Diagnosis and Management of Sport-Related Concussion Best
Practices. Concussion management plans must include student-athlete baseline testing,
measures to reduce exposure to head injuries, education about concussion, and other items.

CMU Sports Medicine Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Concussion Management Plan

In compliance with NCAA regulation, CMU instituted the CMU Sports Medicine Mild
Traumatic Brain Injury Concussion Management Plant (Concussion Management Plan). 13
CMU’s Concussion Management Plan complies with all requirements outlined by the NCAA.

CMU’s Concussion Management Plan particularly emphasizes the importance that


CMU Sports Medicine Personnel’s authority to assess and manage concussion injury events is
unchallenged .

The MAC requires conference coaches to sign an annual acknowledgement form


relating to concussions. The signed acknowledgement form requires all conference coaches to
acknowledge their obligation to support their respective university’s policy on concussion
management, accept responsibility for reporting signs and symptoms they may witness, and
acknowledge receipt of educational materials from their employing university relating to
concussion symptoms and concussion management. Respondent acknowledged his
understanding of the CMU’s Concussion Management Plan via signed acknowledgement form
most recently on May 27, 2018.

CMU Sports Medicine Permanent Medical Disqualification Policy and Procedure

In accordance with NCAA regulations, CMU instituted the Permanent Medical


Disqualification Policy and Procedure (Permanent Medical DQ Policy).14 CMU’s Permanent
Medical DQ Policy explicitly states that decisions arising under the policy are between the
Medical Director and the student-athlete. CMU’s Permanent Medical DQ Policy states
“Coaches should not discuss [whether a student-athlete may not be able to continue playing

13 CMU Sports Medicine Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Concussion Management Plan attached as Appendix D
14 CMU Sports Medicine Permanent Medical Disqualification Policy and Procedure attached as Appendix E.

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their sport] with the student-athlete and let the discussions stay within the medical personnel
and student-athlete.”15

CMU’s Permanent Medical DQ Policy prescribes limitations to a coach’s ability to


inquire about permanent medical disqualification, stating:

Coaches certainly and logically may inquire about the


possibility of medical disqualifications to their team’s staff
athletic trainer and Team Physicians only. Coaches need
to understand they will have no say nor influence in the
timeframe for the process of medical disqualifications, as
they require laborious and lengthy medical evaluations
and treatment plans prior to a case being considered for
disqualification.16

There are obvious power differentials between a student athlete and that athlete’s coach. In
addition, there are serious consequences manifest in any determination that a student-athlete
is permanently disqualified from her or his sport for medical reasons. As such, CMU’s
Permanent Medical DQ policy makes it abundantly clear that the decision is one between
Medical Director and student-athlete and that coaches must not involve themselves, including
a prohibition against influencing timeframes, in that process. The language in the policy could
not be more clear or definitive, stating “Coaches need to understand they will have NO
say nor influence in the timeframe for the process of medical disqualifications.”

RESPONDENT REPEATEDLY REMINDED OF POLICIES, PROCEDURES, RULES, AND


REGULATIONS PROTECTING STUDENT-ATHLETE HEALTH:

Respondent’s career, in relation to the unchallenged autonomous authority of student-


athlete healthcare providers and respect for the independence of medical matters involving
CMU gymnasts is checkered at best. During its review of the initial complaint, CMU
interviewed every athlete on the team, each assistant coach, relevant athletics’ department
administrators, the coach himself (Respondent), and the medical staff. A repeated theme in
many of these interviews, including specific admissions made by the Respondent in his
investigatory interview, revealed that Respondent had, at best, a near constant dismissive
indifference to the independence of the athletics healthcare providers. At worst, Respondent’s
behavior can be fairly described as hostile and aggressive to the notion that CMU is required
to have an independent sports medicine staff which serves as the single authority on matters
related to student-athlete health and well-being.

RESPONDENT’S RECENT HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION WITH THE CMU SPORTS


MEDICINE STAFF:

On October 11, 2017, Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Medicine and designated
NCAA Athletics Health Care Administrator, Brian Wiese (Director Wiese), emailed
Respondent to reiterate CMU rules, policy, and expectations for the medical care of student-

15 Id.
16 Id. Emphasis added.

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athletes.17 Director Wiese learned that Respondent made an independent and unauthorized
decision to engage an outside medical professional (Mark Stansberry, PT) to complete
evaluations on every CMU Gymnastics student-athlete without discussing the matter with any
CMU medical professional. Respondent’s obvious disregard for the CMU Independent
Medical Model caused Director Wiese to caution Respondent, stating:

I am emailing you today to inform you that [consulting outside


medical professionals without speaking with CMU medical
professionals] is inappropriate and goes against the NCAA
implementation of independent medical models at its governed
institutions and what we have established here at CMU. Under
this independent medical model no coach should have any
influence, direction, or implementation of health care
actions or plans for student athletes. This is the role of the
sports medicine department and the athletic trainer
[whose] responsibility is to take care of the student
athletes of the athletics teams.18

On October 16, 2017, following his email, Director Wiese met with Respondent for around
1.5 hours to discuss why Respondent’s communication with Mark Stansberry, PT, violated
CMU’s Independent Medical Model.19 Director Wiese’s impression of Respondent during this
meeting was that he was largely disrespectful and hostile.20 By the end of the meeting, Director
Wiese noted that he was able to get Respondent to acknowledge the purpose of CMU’s
Independent Medical Model and his need to adhere to its requirements.21

On May 27, 2018, Respondent signed the MAC Coaches Concussion


Acknowledgement Form. 22 In the acknowledgement form, Respondent accepted
responsibility for supporting CMU’s policy on concussion management and to report any signs
or symptoms he might witness. Respondent also acknowledged his receipt of education
materials on concussion symptoms and a copy of CMU’s Concussion Management Plan.
Respondent also acknowledged that CMU afforded him an opportunity to ask questions about
areas and issues that were not clear to him relating to concussion management or CMU’s
Concussion Management Plan.

On October 3, 2018, Gymnastics Team Physician, Dr. Amaria, sent a lengthy email to
Respondent outlining several instances of inappropriate interference by Respondent in
student-athlete healthcare. 23 The first incident Dr. Amaria referenced was when

17 Director Brian Wiese’s Email to Respondent, October 11, 2017, attached as Appendix F.
18 Id. Emphasis added.
19 Executive Director of Faculty Personnel Services, Dennis Armistead, and Director of Faculty Employee

Relations, Scott Hoffman, interviewed Director Wiese on March 26, 2019, wherein he articulated his
recollection of his email to, and meeting with, Respondent in October of 2017.
20 Id.
21 Id.
22 Mid-American Conference Coached Concussion Acknowledgement Form attached as Appendix G.
23 Dr. Amaria’s Email to Respondent, October 3, 2018, attached as Appendix H.

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. Respondent suggested to that she go to see


a chiropractor because, in Respondent’s mind, doctors only spend 20 minutes on manipulative
medicine in medical school, but chiropractors spend four years on manipulative medicine.24
Dr. Amaria also pointed to Respondent’s recommendation to
As it turned out,

. Dr.
Amaria went on to explain his medical background, highlight the differences between
chiropractic preparation and osteopathic medical school, highlight the importance of CMU’s
Independent Medical Model, and to ask Respondent to afford him and the Sports Medicine
Department the same level of respect that they extend to Respondent.

On October 12, 2018, Associate Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate


Athletics, Michael Alford (Athletics Director Alford), met with Respondent and emailed him
to reiterate the importance of Respondent’s adherence to CMU’s Independent Medical
Model.25 Athletics Director Alford highlighted the Independent Medical Model’s preclusion
of coaches speaking directly with student-athletes about medical issues. Respondent’s
engagement directly with a student-athlete regarding the possibility of the student-athlete
going on Permanent Medical Disqualification prompted Athletics Director Alford’s meeting
with Respondent and subsequent email.26

CMU RECEIVES THE INSTANT COMPLAINT OF MISCONDUCT REGARDING


RESPONDENT’S INTERFERENCE IN A STUDENT-ATHLETE’S MEDICAL CARE:

On February 15, 2019,

During this exercise session,


informed Student Trainer Aldworth that Respondent advised her to hide her
symptoms and lie to treating medical professionals.27 Student Trainer Aldworth informed
Trainer Jackson28, what told her. Trainer Jackson followed up directly with .
Trainer Jackson relayed communication to Director Wiese, Executive Associate

24 Respondent, in his interview with Investigators, admitted this as true in front of Investigators and his Faculty
Association Representatives.
25 Athletics Director Alford’s Email to Respondent, October 12, 2018, attached as Appendix I.
26 Investigators confirmed this detail through conversations with Athletics Director Alford.
27 Student Trainer Aldworth and each separately confirmed this detail in their interviews with
Investigators.
28 Trainer Jackson, , and Director Wiese all separately confirmed this detail in their interviews
with Investigators.

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Athletic Director for Sport Administration, Cristy Freese (Director Freese), and Associate
Athletic Director for Sport Administration and Communications, Rob Wyman (Director
Wyman), stating:

[Respondent] and Cameron29 pulled into their office


to talk. [Respondent] told that she needs to hide her
symptoms from the doctors and tell them that she doesn’t have
a headache or other symptoms.

[Respondent] also told


her that “if anyone else on the team gets a concussion to tell
them the same thing.”

Director Wyman shared the details of the complaint with Athletics Director Alford. Athletics
Director Alford shared the details of the complaint with Executive Director of Faculty
Personnel Services30, Dennis Armistead (Executive Director Armistead). On February 20,
2019, Executive Director Armistead, Athletics Director Alford, Director Wyman, Deputy
Athletic Director for External Operations, Craig Willey (Director Willey), and Director of
Faculty Employee Relations, Scott Hoffman (Director Hoffman) served Respondent a Notice
of Investigation in accordance with Article 16 of the Agreement.31 CMU placed Respondent on
paid administrative leave during the pendency of the investigation. Respondent submitted a
request for Faculty Association representation. Director Hoffman reached out to the Faculty
Association and Dr. Phil Squattrito (tenured Professor in Chemistry & Biochemistry) and
Suzanne Clarke, J.D. (MEA Staff Attorney)32 agreed to serve as Respondent’s representatives.

2014-2019 CMU/CMUFA PROCESS FOR INVESTIGATING COMPLAINTS OF MISCONDUCT


AGAINST BARGAINING UNIT MEMBERS:

Article 15 of the Agreement permits CMU to terminate bargaining unit members for
just cause.33 Article 16 of the Agreement requires Faculty Personnel Services to be notified of
complaints against bargaining unit members as soon as possible.34 Article 16 requires CMU to
provide bargaining unit members notice of the substantive nature of an investigation along
with notice of the bargaining unit member’s right to Faculty Association representation.35

29 Cameron Linford (Assistant Coach Linford) is the Assistant Gymnastics Coach.


30 Faculty Personnel Services is the Human Resources office for the academic professionals of Central
Michigan University including Regular Faculty (tenure-track, tenured, librarians, coaches, and counselors),
Fixed-Term Faculty, Post-Doctoral Researchers, and Graduate Assistants. Faculty Personnel Services
investigates complaints of misconduct involving employees in these classifications.
31 Article 16 Notice of Investigation, February 20, 2019, attached as Appendix J.
32 MEA Uniserv Director, Kurt Kline, was one of Respondent’s two representatives. Attorney Clarke began

serving as Respondent’s second rep when Mr. Kline went on medical leave.
33 See, Agreement at Article 15(1) and (2)(d).
34 Id. at Article 16(1).
35 Id. at Article 16(2) and (3).

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concussion.

explained that Respondent called her into Assistant Coach Linford’s office
noted that Respondent and Assistant Coach Linford were
both present during the conversation. expressed that Respondent told her that if she,
or any other student-athlete, experiences a concussion in the future she (or other student-
athletes) “. . . shouldn’t say that she has a headache or that she can’t remember something.”

noted that she first informed Student Trainer Aldworth of


Respondent’s statements. Student Trainer Aldworth relayed her conversation with to
Trainer Jackson. reiterated the details of Respondent’s statements to Trainer Jackson.

expressed that neither were surprised by Respondent’s statements


because he often minimized other student-athlete injuries in the past.
expressed a belief that Trainer Jackson worries about getting in trouble by Respondent for
making an issue out of student-athlete injuries. noted some student-athletes
worry they will get in trouble by Respondent for reporting injuries or for asking to stop, or
decrease, participation due to injury.

On February 25, 2019, Investigators interviewed .

noted that she, and other student-athletes, have hidden injury


symptoms in the past. Other witnesses noted willingness to compete and push-
through injuries. noted that some
student-athletes are more open about their injuries than others and that Respondent likely
knew which student-athletes were more open and those that were more reserved.

On February 25, 2019, Investigators interviewed .


noted that in general the protocol for
reporting injuries is that student-athletes go to the trainers and the trainers go to the coaches.
noted she was not aware of any conversations on how student-athletes should report
concussions or concussion symptoms. noted that Gymnastics is a tough sport where
athletes compete through injuries and that CMU is a Division I program such that it is more
competitive. noted that the expectation is that student-athletes continue to compete
unless an injury is serious. noted that if a student-athlete falls and hits their head, the

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process for evaluating their symptoms for concussion is dependent on their subjective
complaints to the coaches.39

On February 25, 2019, Investigators interviewed

has been a student-athlete in Gymnastics since her freshman year. noted that there
is a general culture of pushing through injuries within Gymnastics.

On February 26, 2019, Investigators interviewed Associate Head Coach MacDonald.


MacDonald was a student-athlete at CMU from 1987 to 1991. Associate Head Coach
MacDonald graduated with a bachelor’s in Interpersonal Communications and Business
Administration in 1992. Associate Head Coach MacDonald started as an employee of CMU
in 1994 as Assistant Gymnastics Coach. Associate Head Coach MacDonald noted that Trainer
Jackson determines whether a student-athlete can participate or not and that there is no gray
area in this determination. Associate Head Coach MacDonald noted that there is ongoing
dialogue between coaches and trainers on event-specific considerations relating to injuries.
Associate Head Coach MacDonald noted that trainers and coaches consider student-athlete
feelings when making decisions on participation. Associate Head Coach MacDonald noted
that coaches check regularly with student-athletes regarding how they’re feeling physically.
Associate Head Coach MacDonald noted student-athletes have different attitudes about
pushing through injuries, but they all work hard and want to excel. Associate Head Coach
MacDonald noted that she believes a coach’s job is to mentor and coach student-athletes,
which sometimes requires them to rein in their competitive nature. Associate Head Coach
MacDonald noted that student-athletes do not always disclose injury issues. Associate Head
Coach MacDonald noted that Respondent isn’t receptive to student-athletes
expressing concerns about doing too much activity in preparation. Associate Head
Coach MacDonald noted that Respondent did occasionally meet with student-athletes
without anyone else present.

On February 26, 2019, Investigators interviewed Trainer Jackson. Trainer Jackson has her
Master’s in Athletic Training from Indiana University and Bachelor’s in Athletic Training
from Bowling Green State University. Trainer Jackson is a certified Athletic Trainer in the
State of Michigan since 2012. To maintain licensure, Trainer Jackson engages in 50 hours of
continuing education every two years. Director Wiese assigned her as the trainer for
Gymnastics in 2017. Trainer Jackson noted that she is in control of whether a student-athlete
can participate in activities. Trainer Jackson noted that she felt support by the CMU
Independent Medical Model and CMU Athletics Administration.

Trainer Jackson expressed that, while Respondent listened to her, he didn’t always
follow her direction. Trainer Jackson expressed a belief that Respondent acted differently
when not in her presence and has questioned her medical judgment to others. Trainer Jackson
noted student-athletes expressed discomfort to her when Respondent contradicted her
assessments. Trainer Jackson noted that Respondent violated CMU’s Independent Medical
Model in late 2018 when he spoke to about the

39 Investigatorsnoted that impression of how student-athletes should report concussion symptoms


contradicts the expectations that Athletics health care providers should be informed rather than coaches.

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hear it from the student directly. Trainer Jackson followed up with who told her what
happened in the same details as relayed by Student Trainer Aldworth.

On February 27, 2019, Investigators interviewed .

On February 27, 2019, Investigators interviewed .

Respondent was serving as spotter at the time of her injury. There was no
trainer present in the gym at the time of her injury. Respondent told that he would not
help her out of the foam pit and that she had to get out herself
ultimately crawled out of the foam pit by herself.

noted that it was her opinion that Respondent


pushed athletes beyond safety.

On February 27 and 28, 2019, Investigators interviewed


noted that she suffered a
concussion her freshman year after hitting her head on a
The Team Physician and Trainer diagnosed with a concussion. She
was supposed to compete in in the Meet. According to , despite being
diagnosed with a concussion, Respondent had her compete in the event. noted
that student-athletes are afraid to speak up about injuries to Respondent because they might
“get yelled at,” reprimanded, or taken out of the lineup. also reported that Respondent
advised her to take supplements.

On February 27, 2019, Investigators interviewed .


noted that she only experienced over-use type injuries during
her club Gymnastics experience and while at CMU. noted that she reported to Trainer
Jackson daily prior to practice for ongoing treatment and that Trainer Jackson would follow
up with the coaches.

On February 27, 2019, Investigators interviewed

noted that she experienced over-use injuries and plantar fasciitis while at CMU.
noted that Respondent is often reluctant to let her stop an assignment due to

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April 3, 2019

injury. noted that she saw on campus on February 20, 2019 and told
her that there was something wanted to tell her. The next day, spoke with
by telephone and informed her that Respondent told that she shouldn’t have
told the trainers about her symptoms and that she should hide
symptoms if it happens in the future. reflected that she was not surprised by
Respondent’s conversation with noted in an email to Executive Director
Armistead:

I was not shocked to hear that [Respondent] said something


like that to . At times [Respondent] is not very receptive
to complaints regarding injuries, and I myself have felt hesitant
to voice my concerns to him in the past. In my own experience
during my freshman year, I was told by [Respondent] that I
needed to push through my shoulder injury and train if I
wanted to be considered for a lineup spot in competition. . . .
At times [Respondent] can take on a “win at all costs” type of
attitude and it did not shock me that he would recommend that
should be untruthful in future instances in order to
compete as is a key player on two events,

On February 27, 2019, Investigators interviewed Dr. Noshir Amaria. Dr. Amaria is Team
Physician for Gymnastics and is board-certified in Family Medicine, Osteopathic
Manipulative Medicine, and Athletic Training.41 Dr. Amaria noted a history of concerns with
Respondent violating the Independent Medical Model including sending student-athletes to
physical therapy without involving the medical staff, engaging outside medical professionals
without involving medical staff, speaking with student-athletes directly about their injury issues
and medical treatment. Dr. Amaria explained the concussion testing protocol that he goes
through with every student-athlete evaluated for concussion. Dr. Amaria noted that certain
parts of the testing protocol are there because they indicate the presence of a concussion
without the student-athletes subjective perception. Dr. Amaria noted that he was stunned and
shocked that any coach would do what Respondent was alleged to have done.

On February 28, 2019, Investigators interviewed

noted that
she doesn’t always share all her injury symptoms with trainers and coaches. noted
Respondent would hear something from the trainers and then confirm with her.
noted that she requested to see a chiropractor to CMU trainers upon the
recommendation of Respondent.

On February 28, 2019, Investigators interviewed

41 See, Appendix H.

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two to four years ago. Respondent did not recall concussions suffered by ,
, or other student-athletes within the last five years. Only upon direct
questioning by Investigators did Respondent acknowledge limited recollection of these various
instances. When Investigators asked Respondent about the medical testing protocol for
concussions, he expressed a very limited understanding. Respondent couldn’t articulate why
vestibular motor testing (eye testing) was important to concussion diagnosis.

Respondent confirmed that he has occasionally required injured athletes to stay off the
competition floor while injured unless they removed a specific medical device. Respondent
noted that he had student-athletes remove an arm-sling in the past because student-athletes
cannot move Gymnastics apparatuses with an arm-sling. Respondent also confirmed that
, both expressed a desire for injured student-
athletes to be allowed to follow their team on the competition floor to cheer and support their
teammates.

Respondent noted on multiple occasions speaking with student-athletes directly


regarding their medical treatment, advising students to engage medical services of a
chiropractor or outside medical professional, personally recommending supplements, and
discussing student-athlete medical conditions with outside medical providers. Respondent
acknowledged doing all of this after having a clear understanding of CMU’s Independent
Medical Model and having been repeatedly counseled by Sports Medicine Staff and
supervision regarding Athletics Administration’s expectation for his compliance with CMU’s
Independent Medical Model.

Respondent additionally acknowledged speaking with student-athletes directly on two


occasions, one involving and one involving , about going on
Permanent Medical Disqualification. Respondent engaged in these conversations despite
CMU’s Permanent Medical Disqualification policy precluding coaches from discussing
Permanent Medical Disqualification with student-athletes. Respondent acknowledged that he
imposed a deadline of “by Friday (end of the then current week)” on
consideration of a Permanent Medical Disqualification but justified it by saying “it seems like
that Friday was the end of a semester and she would have wanted to have it taken care of by
the end of the semester.”

Respondent provided a basic assessment of what occurred with concussion


. Respondent noted that
he spoke with Trainer Jackson on Trainer Jackson informed
Respondent that there was likely no way that would be cleared to participate in the
Gymnastics Meet against .
Respondent noted that he was sitting in Assistant Coach Linford’s office when
stepped into the doorway. Respondent noted that seemed to feel bad about likely
being unable to compete in the upcoming meet. Respondent noted that he wanted to have a
conversation with about “how things work in the real world.” Respondent went on to
claim that he was trying to inform about the fact that “…words have meaning in the
real world.” Respondent noted that when student-athletes use words like “headache” and “I
don’t remember,” medical professionals are going to have a predictable response to those
words. Respondent reflected that his conversation with was about how there are
real world
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consequences to our words. Respondent denied that it ever occurred to him that his words
might be interpreted by the athlete as him encouraging her to lie about her symptoms. He
specifically denied encouraging her to lie about her eyes and did not recall advising to
“tell others the same if they have a concussion.”

FINDING OF MISCONDUCT:

On February 20, 2019, Respondent was put on notice subsequent to the mutually
agreed upon terms memorialized in the collective bargaining agreement between Respondent’s
labor union (CMU FA – an MEA affiliate) and Central Michigan University. His notice
alleged:

A complaint has been made alleging that (you) may have


engaged in misconduct; specifically, that you may have directed
a student athlete to provide false information to medical staff
relating to that athlete’s fitness to compete. The complaint if
accurate, incorporates areas of misconduct relating to CMU
protocols, Mid-American Conference standards for behavior
and NCAA regulations relating to ethical conduct and the
protection of student-athletes.

ALLEGATION: RESPONDENT MAY HAVE ENGAGED IN


MISCONDUCT; SPECIFICALLY, THAT HE MAY HAVE
DIRECTED A STUDENT ATHLETE TO PROVIDE FALSE
INFORMATION TO MEDICAL STAFF RELATING TO THAT
ATHLETE’S FITNESS TO COMPETE.

Respondent himself admits in his interview that he told that her


words will have real meaning when she describes her symptoms to Sports Medicine Staff. In
his interview, he admits that he was motivated to make these comments when he observed
that was forlorn at the prospect of missing practice and competition because she was
diagnosed with a concussion.

In making this finding, the University is compelled by the relative unanimity of voices
in recounting the story as it was told by told
. told Trainer Jackson the same story that told the
her.

Trainer Jackson then tells Director Wiese the same story without significant change or
embellishment. Director Wiese directs Trainer Jackson to talk directly with to confirm
the allegation. then recounts the story in detail to Trainer Jackson.

The day after the incident in Assistant Coach Linford’s office, tells
essentially the same story she told to the Student trainer (as reported by both
is separate interviews).

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April 3, 2019

Assistant Coach Linford confirms important details regarding the conversation in his
office between Respondent and and, in describing what transpired, tells FPS staff “I
wish he wouldn’t have said it. I wouldn’t have said it that way.”

Finally, Respondent affirms he had the conversation with wherein he


counseled her about using words like “nausea” and “headache” after an injury but avers that
he was merely instructing the athlete that “in the real world, words have real meaning…”
Respondent’s proffer is that he was telling the athlete “if you don’t want to miss practice or
competition, then think about it before you use those kinds of words…”

The notion that Respondent is counseling a University student that “words have real
meaning” is far-fetched to the point of absurdity. A fair interpretation of Respondents’ words
is that “words have consequences” rather than “words have meaning.” A consequence for
is that when she injures her head and reports nausea or headache, she might be
diagnosed with a brain injury and her activity restricted. A consequence for Respondent is
that he might not be able to field his best team and the team might lose a meet – thereby
affecting his employment goals.

The University finds, by clear and compelling evidence, that Respondent orchestrated
a conversation with wherein he encouraged her to provide false information
to medical staff related to her fitness to compete.

RESPONDENT VIOLATED CMU’S INDEPENDENT MEDICAL MODEL AS INCORPORATED


INTO THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT MADE BY :

Over the course of the instant investigation, the University examined much of
Respondent’s history as it relates to his obligations to, and CMU’s promise and value of,
independent medical support for CMU student-athletes. This analysis was engaged for two
reasons 1) to establish the truth or falsity of a specific allegation that Respondent violated the
IMM and thus frustrated important, essential safeguards for student-athletes, as well as
compliance requirements made of CMU by the NCAA, and 2) as a means of assessing
Respondent’s credibility and motivations as well as for evaluating the severity of the
misconduct if proven.

CMU finds that Respondent engaged in a pattern of behavior over an extended period
of time that contradicted the express terms of the IMM. It is impossible to digest the words
offered by both witnesses and Respondent in relation to the meeting in Assistant Coach
Linford’s office and reconcile them amicably with the express terms of the IMM establishing
that “…no coach should have any influence, direction, or implementation of health
care actions or plans for student athletes.” It’s impossible.

By his own admission, Respondent – even if his fatuous rationale of “…in the real
world, words have real meaning…” explanation is credited as somehow true, the inescapable
conclusion is that the lesson he was trying to share was , you are disappointed you
aren’t competing or practicing. Next time, don’t tell them you are nauseous, have a headache,
can’t remember, or have eye problems if you want to compete and continue to practice…”

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Once that conclusion is made; once the context of the conversation is established as
has been admitted to by Respondent, then the conclusion that Respondent was attempting to
influence, direct, or effect the future implementation of health care actions or plans for
and, if followed through on his “advice” and told other student-athletes he had the same
words of advice for them, all the other student-athletes on the team.

CMU further finds an aggravating circumstance for this misconduct is Respondent’s


long history of hostility and aggression toward the independence of the Sports Medicine staff
and their providence over the physical safety and well-being of student-athletes at CMU.
Respondent has been repeatedly counseled over his career and admitted in his interview that
he deliberately disregarded the IMM in favor of his own experience after he was repeatedly
told by CMU Sports Medicine Staff and counseled by Senior Administrators to stop doing it.

In short, there seems to be no reaching this particular coach about the link between
student-athlete safety and the need for an independent medical authority to have exclusive
dominion over student-athlete health and well-being. The investigators are left wondering what
tragedy would have to happen, what student and family would have to suffer, for
Respondent to understand that he is not a doctor, is not a medical professional, and
unjustifiably assumes significant risk for himself, the health and safety of CMU student-
athletes entrusted to him, and CMU as an institution when he wrongly contradicts the advice
and direction and treatment plan established by CMU’s staff of licensed Sports Medicine
professionals.

RESPONDENT VIOLATED NCAA RULES AND REGULATIONS:

NCAA bylaw 2.4 as memorialized in the 2018-2019 NCAA bylaws reads:

2.4 The Principle of Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct. For


intercollegiate athletics to promote the character development
of participants, to enhance the integrity of higher education
and to promote civility in society, student-athletes, coaches,
and all others associated with these athletics programs and
events should adhere to such fundamental values as respect,
fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. These values
should be manifest not only in athletics participation, but
also in the broad spectrum of activities affecting the
athletics program.

Here, CMU finds that by attempting to influence a student-athlete into lying about or
covering up the severity of her injuries, either individually or as part of scheme or plan
demonstrating hostility to the IMM, or by deliberate indifference or hostility toward injuries
affecting athletic performance, Respondent creates a question that must be answered by the
Athletic Department compliance staff in relation to bylaw 2.4. Specifically, did Respondent
engage in behavior that was dishonest and irresponsible within the ambit of NCAA bylaw 2.4.
The undersigned investigators find by a preponderance of the evidence that Respondent did
engage in conduct that was dishonest and irresponsible in relation to bylaw 2.4. Where he
engages in such behavior, he also violates the terms of his individual employment agreement

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(Appendix A). As such, he creates just cause for disciplinary action and aggravates the
misconduct manifest in other allegations.

RESPONDENT COMMITTED EGREGIOUS MISCONDUCT BY ATTEMPTING TO


UNDERMINE THE CMU MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY CONCUSSION MANAGEMENT
PLAN:

The CMU Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Concussion Management Plan exists to insure
student-athlete safety. Gymnastics is a particularly dangerous activity wherein no protective
gear is worn. It is foreseeable, given the type of activity engaged in by student-athletes, that
concussions occur and that a plan addressing the need to respond effectively and consistently
to that foreseeable injury potential is essential in providing for the well-being of student-
athletes.

Respondent’s conduct, by seeking to diminish the ability of student-athletes to


articulate symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and by creating an atmosphere where
hiding or lying about symptoms is expected, presents an aggravating circumstance given
Respondent’s role as coach on a championship caliber team where participation and praise are
highly sought after by the student-athletes.

The investigators conclude that Respondent attempted to interfere with the integrity
of the University’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Concussion Management Plant such that the
only thing standing in the way of his successful interference with that plan was the courage
and character of . In that regard, the Investigators find that the attempted
misconduct is sufficiently representative of an intent to engage in misconduct as to constitute
misconduct in and of itself.

RESPONDENT CREATED AN ATMOSPHERE THAT IS HOSTILE AND CONTRADICTORY TO


THE AIMS OF THE CMU INDEPENDENT MEDICAL MODEL AND THE TRAINING AND
EXPERTISE OF THE SPORTS MEDICINE STAFF:

Respondent admits he disregarded counseling and advice on the express terms, and
meaning of, the IMM and other policies incorporated into the creation of the Sports Medicine
staff’s unchallenged autonomy to manage student-athlete health and well-being and medical
treatment. Despite that, his history is to continue his aggression and hostility toward that
autonomy be repeatedly inserting himself, his opinion, and his great power to influence
student-athletes into the medical well-being of student-athletes on the gymnastics team.

What began as an examination into whether or not Respondent advised a student-


athlete to lie about her concussion symptoms, and whether or not he sought to influence her
to encourage other student-athletes to similarly represent their concussions symptoms
should they ever have any, revealed a culture created by Respondent that is openly hostile and
antagonistic to the efforts of the Sports Medicine staff and contradictory to the primacy of
student-athlete health and well-being.

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CONCLUSION & DISCIPLINARY DETERMINATION:

It is the conclusion of the undersigned investigators that the allegations against


Respondent are true; and that, because Respondent engaged in egregious misconduct that is
antithetical to the very foundation of his employment, CMU has just cause to engage discipline
as appropriate including all sanctions up to and including termination of Respondent’s
employment.

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Armistead, J.D. Scott J. Hoffman, J.D.


Executive Director Director of Faculty Employee Relations
Faculty Personnel Services Faculty Personnel Services
Central Michigan University Central Michigan University

cc: Michael Alford


Jerry Reighard
FA Representative

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