Medical privacy, Eric LeGrand, and Cody Endres

On first glance, you would not think that Cody Endres's suspension and subsequent dismissal has much, at all, to do with Eric LeGrand's recovery and rehabilitation from a neck injury. Randy Edsall's decision to start Zach Frazer over Endres made little sense based on in-game performance. Based on Wednesday's report that Endres was suspended again for a positive amphetamine test, anointing Frazer the starter without a fair competition suddenly makes a great deal more sense.

This isn't about whether America's prohibition on recreational drugs is sound or fair policy. Cody is a very talented quarterback, but a third positive test indicates immaturity and a definite lack of commitment. Unless their new freshman starter is any good, the Huskies are probably going to tank the rest of the way, and devalue RU's genuinely impressive win from two weeks ago. For what it's worth, they also are down a starting guard too.

Equally troublesome is the idea that someone, in all probability an official within UConn's athletic department, leaked details of Endres's suspension to the press. That development is in stark contrast to several substance-related incidents involving Rutgers athletes over the past decade. All to some extent were well-known across campus and among athletic boosters, but I can't recall Rutgers actually confirming any specifics. There would usually just be a suspension announced with no additional details. That level of discretion is appropriate. I don't know if UConn violated any federal or state medical privacy laws, but divulging the circumstances in this case strikes me as very unethical. Prospective student athletes in any sport should be wary of attending UConn if this is common practice.

As everyone who's been following news reports about Eric LeGrand's injury should know, the Rutgers athletic department has kept the story mostly under wraps for several reasons. Medically, it takes a while to make any definitive prognosis in these cases, with new advances further clouding the picture. There simply isn't enough to go on initially. Providing daily updates is logistically unfeasible for all parties involved, and would violate LeGrand's right to privacy on both an ethical level and in regards to HIPAA. Coach Schiano has also publicly cited a desire to clamp down on internet speculation. Those reports are either false, or if true, likely stem from HIPAA violations if reported without the express consent of LeGrand or his family.

That is why last night's Ledger story quoting Rutgers professor Dr. Wise Young is generating a lot of discussion. It would be inappropriate if assorted internet voices are leaking truthful details about LeGrand's condition without consent. If Young is speaking publicly about LeGrand's condition, and there is no indication as to whether or not he and/or any sources received consent to comment, then the stakes of any hypothetical violation are much greater than they would be for a layman. I am specifically not accusing Young of anything, but that aspect of the article frankly raises more questions than it answers.

Understandably, everybody wants to read good news right now, and is probably more inclined to believe positive rumors than an article sourcing a prominent neuroscientist stating that LeGrand has shown no movement. One thing that people on the boards were harping on last night was that the article's text does not directly include any direct quotes from Young in support of the headline or first paragraph. My inclination is that is probably a result sloppy writing more than anything else.

I sincerely believe that there are message board posters with connections to the athletic department. I'm going to go with the world-renown expert on this one though, while allowing for the possibility that he was either speculating, or the article's author read far too much into the "no news" quote. Admittedly, it is a little weird, considering that he is probably working off second-hand information, and all of the doctors directly involved have been very careful in their public statements. If the latter possibility is correct, as many Scarlet Nation posters argued last night, that would be very disturbing indeed.

What is clear is that Scarlet Fever is producing two LeGrand tribute shirts, and the proceeds will go towards funding his recovery. Get them now, and spread the link around.

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