Jul 1, 2015Michigan Football Player Claims He Was Run Off
A University of Michigan football player claims new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, along with the team’s athletic trainer, pressured him to give up his senior season for medical reasons, a charge Harbaugh denies. Ondre Pipkins, a defensive lineman, claims he is fit to play and has elected to transfer.
According to a report by ESPN.com, Pipkins played last season after being cleared to return from a torn knee ligament. He said a doctor told him that he had some arthritis in the knee, but that it shouldn’t keep him from playing football. However, the school sent Pipkins back to his knee surgeon who recommended the player rest his body for six months. Pipkins also suffered a concussion during spring practice and was cleared by a neurologist.
“I feel I am healthy and without pain,” Pipkins said. “I believe Michigan wanted to free up the scholarship. I felt I was practicing well and could compete at a high level at the nose tackle and tackle positions.”
Pipkins says he was also told he could no longer work out at team facilities because of his risk for injury, although that was later modified to a prohibition on working out with teammates. Pipkins also claims Head Athletic Trainer Paul Schmidt encouraged him to sign the medical form that would end his playing career, yet still provide him scholarship benefits. If Pipkins took the medical scholarship, Michigan could use his scholarship spot for another player.
“Schmidt told me, ‘Call it quits. Hang it up.’ He said, ‘You’ve had a good run,'” Pipkins said.
According to Mlive.com, Harbaugh denied that the team was looking to free up Pipkins’ scholarship for another player.
“We don’t run off players,” Harbaugh said Tuesday after throwing out the first pitch before a Detroit Tigers game. “When it comes to the health and safety of the players, that argument trumps all other arguments.”
He also referred to a written statement given earlier to ESPN.
“After consulting with our medical team, we do not think it is in Ondre’s best interest as it relates to his health and welfare to play football, short or long term,” Harbaugh said. “He remains on full scholarship and counts toward the 85-scholarship limit in pursuit of graduation from the University of Michigan.”
Pipkins says Michigan has given him permission to talk with nine NCAA Division I FBS programs he is interested in transferring to, but he would have to sit out a season before playing for any FBS team. He could be eligible this fall if he transfers to a lower division school.