by Irvin Muchnick
A new story in the hometown newspaper of Garden City Community College in Kansas — where 19-year-old football player Braeden Bradforth died of exertional heat stroke after practice in what has the telltale outlines of a cover-up — tells of widespread “turmoil that engulfed the school throughout the spring and summer.”
The Garden City Telegram article, at http://www.gctelegram.com/news/20181214/gccc-instructor-claims-division-remains, largely quotes an instructor at the community college who claims she has been harassed and retaliated against for exposing multidimensional scandals and dysfunction there. One salacious nugget is the housing of a volleyball player at the home of then athletic director John Green.
This new story does not mention the Telegram’s earlier coverage of the resignation of Brice Knapp, head of the cheerleading program, amidst allegations of sexual harassment.
The newspaper also misses the obvious opportunity to point out both the death of football player Bradforth and the contemplated lawsuit against the school by his mother following the coroner’s revelation that he died of exertional heat stroke, and the reporting of irregularities and misleading statements about the death on the part of the former head football coach, Jeff Sims, who is now at Missouri Southern State University.
For those of us outside this Kansas community who are trying to untangle this hot mess, there is, finally, the following factoid: The new acting president of the community college, Ryan Ruda, was the athletic director who hired Sims in 2014. Ruda has announced that, as one of his “first acts,” he ordered a review of the Bradforth autopsy report and the circumstances of the death. Ruda, however, did not name an independent investigator nor reveal the time frame for the review.
Meanwhile, readers may have noticed that Sports Illustrated’s online platform, after sustained questioning of writer Charlotte Carroll and managing editor Chis Stone by Concussion Inc., got around to “updating accordingly” (Carroll’s words) their public-swerving week 1 coverage of the Bradforth death.
I am not so sure about the “accordingly” part.
The original story quoted Jeff Sims hearsay about an emergency room doctor who supposedly fingered a killer blood clot that led to a fatal heart attack for Bradforth. Sims used this mystery clinical citation as the basis for his theme that the tragedy was an act of God. The coach also conveniently ignored the reality — exposed in the report of the emergency paramedics’ response to the 911 call, which I obtained last week — that the coaches on the scene, likely including Sims himself, directed drenching the unresponsive Bradforth with a water hose before the paramedics were summoned. This strongly suggests that those on the scene knew from the get-go that it was exertional heat stroke (EHS).
This new SI piece at long last takes note of the Finney County coroner’s finding that Bradforth died from EHS. See “Lawyer for Family of College Football Player Who Died of Heat Stroke: ‘We Just Want Answers,’” https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/12/14/braeden-bradforth-garden-city-community-college-cause-death. But reporter Carroll does not refer back to her original article for what she had promised Bradforth’s mother’s lawyer would be an “update”; nor does SI review the initial misleading statements by the Garden City coach.
With classic PR stealth, SI.com dumped the new story on Friday and supported it with a single tweet from the magazine’s @SInow Twitter account. Neither Carroll nor Stone pointed to it in their own Twitter feeds.
On the positive side, Yahoo Sports and others have picked up on the belated autopsy report thanks to Sports Illusrated’s latest self-serving exclusive.
DEATH OF BRAEDEN BRADFORTH — CHRONOLOGICAL HEADLINE LINKS