Michigan fans rally, petition for athletic director's ouster

University of Michigan students started a petition this week calling for the ouster of athletic director Dave Brandon in the wake of the football team's missteps, and a rally was held Tuesday night in Ann Arbor to support the cause.

The rally Tuesday night drew about 1,000 people, according to the Ann Arbor News. The protest began at the center of campus and moved to the university president's residence.

By Tuesday afternoon, the online petition, organized by the Central Student Government, had more than 7,000 signatures from faculty, students and staff.

They are frustrated not only with the team's performance on the field but with the handling of quarterback Shane Morris' concussion last weekend.

The Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper, called for Hoke's dismissal on Monday.

Morris sustained a concussion during the Wolverines' 30-14 loss to Minnesota and was sent back into the game after he was examined on the sideline. Coach Brady Hoke and the athletic department didn't acknowledge Morris sustained a concussion until releasing at statement at 1 a.m. Tuesday apologizing for their mishandling of the situation.

The athletic department called Morris' return to the field with a head injury a serious lack of communication between the medical and coaching staff.

Michigan fans also are upset with the team's 2-3 record this season. Students are expressing their dissatisfaction by not attending games.

University president Mark Schlissel issued a statement Tuesday that read in part, "I have been in regular discussion regarding this incident and its aftermath with Athletic Director David Brandon and the Board of Regents. I support the immediate protocol changes that the department's initial assessment has identified. I have instructed the Athletic Department to provide me, the Board of Regents, and other campus leaders with a thorough review of our in-game player safety procedures, particularly those involving head injuries, and will involve experts from the University of Michigan Health System in assessing its medical aspects.

"Despite having one of the finest levels of team medical expertise in the country, our system failed on Saturday. We did not get this right and for this I apologize to Shane, his family, his teammates, and the entire Michigan family. It is a critical lesson to us about how vigilant and disciplined we must always be to ensure student-athlete safety. As president, I will take all necessary steps to make sure that occurs and to enforce the necessary accountability for our success in this regard."

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told ESPN that there are no current plans for the board of regents to meet to discuss the matter. The board's next scheduled meeting is Oct. 16.

Michigan also is taking heat from outside the university. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) called on the Big Ten to investigate the Morris incident. He serves as co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

"Allowing a possibly concussed player to determine whether or not he is fit to return to play not only violates common sense but is also an egregious violation of standard concussion protocol, including protocol set forth by the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference," Pascrell told Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany in a letter.

"I strongly urge you to investigate the circumstances surrounding Shane Morris's injury and the decision to return him to play. Additionally, I ask that you re-examine the protocols in place and determine what changes can be made to improve them. I also urge you to establish penalties for violations of concussion protocols. Every concussion is brain damage and must be diagnosed and treated by appropriate medical personnel, who prioritize players' health, safety, and well-being."

Hoke said Morris was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and did not practice Sunday, but early Tuesday morning, Brandon released a statement saying that Morris sustained a "probable, mild concussion."

"Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game," Brandon said in the statement. "As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again."

Brandon said he and Darryl Conway, Michigan's associate athletic director for student-athlete health, reviewed the situation and plan to have athletic medical personnel in the press box, and will examine communication processes between medical teams and coaches.

"We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes' well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly," Brandon said in the statement.

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