Ah, the tension.
Right now, there is no standard in the NCAA for discussing player injuries.
“My university’s attorney told me, ‘You cannot be specific with any injuries. You can say upper body. You can say lower body,'” said Todd Berry, who coached college football for 34 years and is now executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. “Many times the media would already know what it was, but that’s all I could reference.”
Some coaches are more specific. Others are reluctant to share anything at all.
Washington State’s Mike Leach has a history of not even answering questions after a game about a player who was injured on the field. Chip Kelly also never talked about injuries while at Oregon — he’s now at UCLA — and eventually neither did his successor, Mark Helfrich, who’s now in the NFL. Miami’s Mark Richt used to be pretty open about injury updates but started to cut back because other coaches were withholding information.
Others are more forthcoming, like Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State and Duke’s David Cutcliffe.
That inconsistency could potentially raise red flags as legal gambling grows throughout the United States. If one coach reveals more than another, it opens up questions of whether it creates a chance for some gamblers to gain an unfair edge.
“When there’s less info out there, you have a greater chance of having inside information,” said Brad Powers, senior college football analyst for Pregame.com. “When there’s more information, when everyone knows everything — like the NFL, you know exactly if a guy is probable, doubtful or questionable — then nobody really has any inside information.”
Powers said bettors want a common language across the conferences. Coaches also want consistency, Berry said.
That could mean only releasing a player’s status for the game — an availability report, which may be the safest option. Or injuries could be defined as lower or upper body only.
“The more specific you get, the greater the chance is that you will wander into an area that is protected by one or both of those statutes (HIPAA and FERPA),” said attorney William H. Brooks, who works in the NCAA compliance and investigations group for his firm, Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC.
To be honest, I don’t get all the fretting about this. As that quoted passage suggests, an availability report would seem to meet the concerns of both ends. Or am I missing something here?