Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Why Did Derek Sheely Die?

Illustration for article titled Why Did Derek Sheely Die?

The Washington Times dives deep into the story of Derek Sheely, a fullback for D3 Frostburg State who died after collapsing during preseason drills two years ago. It's a situation where just about every authority failed this kid, and neither the school nor the NCAA seem particularly keen on getting to the bottom of what happened.


Sheely died in August 2011, after days of preseason drills that included a variation on the "Oklahoma drill," where players line up three yards apart and crash into each other at full speed. Despite repeatedly needing medical attention for forehead bruising, bleeding, but no concussion exams, Frostburg's running backs coach commanded Sheely to lead with his helmet. After appearing woozy and complaining of a headache, coaches sent him back into the game. "Stop your bitching and moaning," one coach allegedly told him. "And quit acting like a pussy and get back out there."

Frostburg State has stonewalled requests for the results of an internal review of its coaches' actions, and the NCAA's response was limited to tweaking its toothless concussion policy, "[suggesting] a public relations campaign, [changing] 'shalls' in proposed guidelines to 'shoulds.'"

Below, our August story on Sheely after his family filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and Frostburg coaches accusing them of "utter incompetence, egregious misconduct, false hope and a reckless disregard for player health and safety."