On August 22, 2011, at Frostburg State University, Derek Sheely collapsed on the field during football practice. Sheely’s teammates yelled for help, but the coaches simply told him to get up. He soon passed away on the field after suffering severe head trauma during a dangerous drill.
Kristen and Ken Sheely, Sheely’s mother and father, initially thought he died in a freak accident based on the information they had received from Sheely’s coaches. However, on March 22, 2012, an anonymous player from Frostburg state emailed details of what he claims really happened the day Sheely died, claims that were later corroborated by the other teammates. This led to a belief that what happened was not a freak accident but rather a tragedy that could have been easily prevented.
“Playing fullback was a lot of the time in the thick of the grime and violence… Jamie Shumacher made it way more dangerous than it should be.” Brandon Henderson, one of Sheely’s teammates wrote.
Once all of this came to light the Sheelys filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, Frostburg State coach Tim Rogish, running back coach Jamie Shumacher and trainer Micheal Sweitzer. The lawsuit was put to rest after lawyers announced there would be a $1.2 million dollar settlement back in August of 2016.
Though this tragedy ended well, it’s just one of many. Just last year the University of Maryland football program was described as having a toxic coaching culture under coach DJ Durkin before the death of offensive lineman, Jordan McNair, in June 2018. McNair, who was 19 at the time, died two weeks after being hospitalized following a team workout on May 29th. After his death, multiple people from the program, both current and former players as well as football staff, spoke to ESPN about the toxic culture of the program.